With Woman’s History Month coming to a close the last day in March, I thought I might do one final story about my beautiful sisters. The first of March I featured the great Lena Horne under the heading, “A Woman of Dignity and Integrity,” a couple weeks later it was A’Lelia Walker, the daughter of millionaire businesswoman, Madam C. J. Walker, and the “Most Fascinating and Flamboyant Lady of the Harlem Renaissance.” Today, we have some very dynamic sisters following in the footsteps of not only Ms. Horne and Walker, but also Harriett Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and the list goes on. I call them the educated, sophisticated, independent sisters of today. They have taken different roads to success but share one classy attribute and that is a non-compromising love for their heritage and culture. I am pleased to share with you, these beautiful sisters who are, as Nina Simone described, “Young, Gifted and Black.”
Traci Harden is an Atlanta based creative artist who specializes in graphic design. She is owner of Onyx Creative Arts, a graphic and fine arts studio specializing in layout and design for books and periodicals, logo/collateral/typography layout and design. Traci also specializes in advertising layout and design, and original fine arts and illustrations. She launched her business in February 2007 after watching then Senator Barack Obama’s press conference when he announced he would run for president. “Watching a future president’s thoughtful leap into the abyss gave me the courage to do the same and open a business,” she said in a recent interview. A native of Atlanta, Traci has seventeen years of experience as a graphic designer and fine artist. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Spelman College and has done additional post graduate work at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Traci freely gives of her time to causes she believes in. Some of the groups for which she volunteers her time are: Adult and Children with ADD/ADHD Awareness and Advocacy, Straight for Equality (LGBT), Center for Visually Impaired-Atlanta, Recreational Reading, and Bridging the Tech Divide. Traci is a successfully independent Black businesswoman who loves her husband of 21 years and her two children. Traci is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Rhonda Lawson is the award-winning author of Cheatin’ in the Next Room, A Dead Rose, Putting It Back Together, Some Wounds Never Heal and Twylite. Besides being a prolific writer of an outstanding series of novels, Rhonda is also an Army journalist who has travelled the world and is now stationed in Belgium where she works as an American Forces Network station manager. Her work has appeared stateside in various Army and civilian publications, including Soldiers Magazine, The Seattle Times and The Army Times. Rhonda began writing at the age of 12. “I just love to write,” she says. “Today I still write purely for the love of it.” Unlike some authors who emphasize entertainment over content or profit over passion, she readily acknowledges that she has something to say and is doing so via her writing. “I want to touch people with my stories. All of my books have a message.” Rhonda holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Studies from the University of Maryland, a Masters Degree in Human Relations from Oklahoma University and is currently working on her Doctorate in Business Administration with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership. Rhonda is a successfully independent Black woman with exceptional writing skills, who loves her daughter whom she appropriately named, “Beautiful.” Rhonda is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
Toschia Moffett is undoubtedly one of the most gifted young Black women in America. She graduated from Duke University Summa Cum Laude with a double major in Political Science and English, and with a double minor in History and Musical Theater, and then graduated from Northwestern University Law School by the age of 23, with a Juris Doctorate and a Masters in Public Administration. She served as a prosecutor in Cook County, Illinois and then became a corporate attorney with Dell Corporation for the past fifteen years. She is also an independent military contract attorney. Not only is Toschia an accomplished attorney at law, but is also a polished writer. Her novel, You Wrong for That, has been well received by book clubs and within the literary world. Toschia’s artistic talent has no bounds. She is an outstanding singer, director of plays and an actress, having performed in a version of Dream Girls for the troops at Fort Hood, Texas and the Killeen community. She is also an organizer. Back in 2005 she recognized the need for authors to collaborate in doing book signings and established the Divine Literary Tour. Approximately 25 authors, belonging to Greek Organizations, traveled to various cities for book signings. The Tour eventually grew into presentations on the image of Blacks in literature, movies and television. In an interview on KROV 91.7 Community Radio in San Antonio, Texas Toschia exclaimed, “Enough is enough. The perception of Black women has been tainted and distorted for centuries and it is now time for us to step forward and take control of the images portrayed of us on television and in movies, and in books and magazines.” Toschia is a firm believer that we as Blacks must begin to tell our story our way and for that reason has teamed with Prosperity Publications to help move the company forward as a major player in the publishing world. Toschia is a successfully independent Black woman of many talents who is dedicated to her husband and two children. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Antoinette Winstead is a brilliant young sister who received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from New York University in Film/Television and a Masters of Fine Arts from Columbia University with a concentration in Film. She is currently a tenured full Professor at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. She teaches courses in film studies, television history, screenwriting, directing, acting, and digital film production at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Antoinette is a scholar with a strong emphasis for research in the area of horror film, television, and literature, specifically the portrayal of race, gender, and social class in horror and how this genre reflects cultural changes and societal anxieties. Her additional research interests include the use of heroic journey in science fiction and fantasy film, television and literature. Recently she has further expanded her interest in researching the politics of film production, specifically the production of genocide films. Antoinette is a committed sister who is willing to reach beyond the walls of the university and bring her knowledge and talent to the community. She has written several plays that have been performed at the San Pedro Playhouse, Jump Start Theater, and the Continental Café, all in San Antonio, Texas. She has directed over a dozen plays, most notably, Miss Evers’ Boys, Steel Magnolia, and A Raisin in the Sun. Professor Winstead is also an accomplished poet. Her poetry has been published in such journals as The Poet Magazine, ViAztlan, Inkwell Echoes and Cross Currents and in the anthology, A Garland of Poems: A Collection from Ten Female Poets. Antoinette is an independent Black scholar and teacher, dedicated to her family, her students and her culture.
The outstanding and talented sisters, featured in this article are only the tip of the iceberg of the number of Black women who believe that they can make a difference in this world, without compromising their principles or further endangering the image of the Black woman. They are representative of the positive image that Nina Simone had in mind when she sang “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.”