Make Some Noise for the Color Black

darkwaterThis may sound like a very unusual request, but I am going to ask everyone to make some noise if you agree with me that the color black has been denigrated and abused far too long. The noise is to signal all those who have accepted the definition “Black is wicked, black is ugly, and black is evil,” that a change is going to come. The great scholar, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, made some noise back in 1920 in his essay, “The Souls of White Folk,” found in his book, Darkwater, when he boldly exclaimed that the European and dominant American cultures have extolled the color white while debasing other colors, including black. He wrote, “Everything good, efficient, fair and honorable is white; everything mean, bad, blundering, cheating, and dishonorable is yellow, a bad taste is brown, and the devil is black.” All colors are equated with negative qualities with the exception of white. According to Dr. Du Bois, yellow and brown get pretty low grades but the lowest is the color black. So that is why I am making a request that anyone who wants to join me to change those definitions should make some noise for the color black.

black is the color of strength

authorsI made some noise when I invited twenty-three writers to provide me with an essay, short autobiography, or biographical sketch about the African American culture for publication in an anthology celebrating the beauty, grace and strength behind the word black as in Black America. The result has been the release of Black Is the Color of Strength. All of the writers who chose to participate shared a common goal, and that was to present this country and the world with a range of well written works, accentuating the positive qualities found within the Black culture in this country The last section of the book is titled, “Legacies of Courage” and features short sketches on such giants as Dr. Maya Angelou, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker and Shirley Chissolm. There is a short essay on the Tuskegee Airmen and a final work called, “The Love That Forgives.” It recounts the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in September 1963, and the unique ability of Black Americans to forgive. This anthology is available for review on our website and on Amazon.com.

firesbookI made some more noise when I decided to tell our story our way and wrote a historical novel about the Tulsa Riot of 1921 titled, Fires of Greenwood. The novel chronicles the real-life events that led to the horrendous slaughter of American citizens, during this country’s turbulent racial past. I have also brought to life, the debate between Booker T. Washington’s accommodationist approach to segregation and Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois’ advocacy for a more radical protest, against the evils confronting Blacks during the early years of the Twentieth Century. This novel is an excellent primer for those who are interested in tracing the history of racial violence in this country, and why racial turbulence continues to confront us today. It is available for review on our website and on Amazon.com.

DrDiopDr. Mateen Diop made some noise when he wrote an excellent book, Inner City Public Schools Still Work. Dr. Diop shares with all of us concerned about the future of public schools, how they can still serve as effective tools for teaching our children. The key, according to Dr. Diop, is dedication and concern for those innocent young minds that are starving for knowledge. He challenges the notion that charter schools are superior to public schools, and gives examples to back his argument.  However, he agrees that both are useful institutions for teaching our children. In one very interesting section, he takes the reader through his own experience as a principal of an inner city school and how his staff, under his leadership, changed the entire learning environment, and increased the children’s scores far above just passing on state examinations. Dr. Diop’s book will be available through Prosperity Publications in August of this year. It is available for review on our website.

TMoffettAttorney Toschia Moffett made some noise when she meticulously interviewed and then wrote, The Spiritual Journey of a Legend, about the life of one giant of a preacher in Gaffney, South Carolina. Dr. Reverend James W. Sanders was one of those brave heroes that led the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s He did his work right in the city of Gaffney, challenging segregation in all its manifestations. This is the story of a man whose life’s journey begins in a segregated schoolroom in Union, South Carolina in 1933, and reaches its pinnacle of success when he is invited to the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2008. Toschia points out how the Christian faith can still serve as a vehicle for social change and economic improvement, in the Black communities. Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, who was one of the many admirers of Reverend Sanders, wrote the foreword to the book. This book is available for review on our website an on Amazon.com

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The late David Floyd made some noise when he wrote about his extraordinary climb from a young man who graduated from high school reading at the second grade level, and in 2014 received his Doctorate Degree in Accounting. In his autobiography titled, Through My Mother’s Tears, David shares with the reader the tremendous obstacles he faced growing up in poverty in Freeport, Texas.  He recounts the personal humiliation and his rejection by others because of his dark skin color, and because he could not read. Despite all the obstacles, and with sheer determination, David turned a tragic beginning into a glorious victory in his life’s journey. This book is a must read for all educators interested in knowing, from a first hand account, how the education system can fail to help a child who always had a desire to learn, and for those who have lost hope and need a source of inspiration to keep on fighting for a better life. David’s book will be available through Prosperity Publications and on Amazon.com in July of this year.

chrispittardChris Pittard made some noise with his coming of age story, The Transmanaut Chronicles, about his brother, two friends and him. These four young men take off on a trip from El Paso, Texas to San Francisco, California, making stops in San Diego, Los Angeles and Oakland. Chris, who is an attorney in San Antonio, has given us a refreshing book, not about young men who are slinging drugs, chasing women and killing each other. It is the kind of book that young men and women can read and recognize that if these four boys can challenge life at an early age and commit to great accomplishments, then they can also do the same. Chris’s brother, Dana Pittard, is a Major General in the United States Army and his two friends are IT Specialists working for the United States Government in Washington, D.C. Attorney Pittard’s book is available through Prosperity Publications or Amazon.com.

These writings represent just the tip of the iceberg of the works that Prosperity Publications will publish over the next six months. The company plans to release the second in the trilogy on the color black, titled, Black Is the Color of Love, in August of this year. It is a series of short stories accentuating the love and courage of our ancestors. These fictional stories complement the non-fiction works found in Black is the Color of Strength.

The company will also release the personal memoirs of the great Hall of Fame basketball genius, George Gervin, in October of this year. The one man, who is responsible for the San Antonio Spurs moving from the ABA to the NBA and made them into a competitive team, is determined to write a different kind of book from what you usually get from an athlete. He is determined to tell how after basketball he dedicated his life to building a school for young people that often make wrong choices in life, and end up being locked up and forgotten about by society. He has taken those young people and provided them with an environment conducive for learning and, therefore, giving them a second chance to succeed in life.

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We invite you to visit our website at www.prosperitypublications.com and make some noise with us. If you find one or two of these works interesting, we further invite you to make some more noise and purchase them when available. You will not regret it because these books are entertaining, enlightening and most important empowering.

Not Just a Business, But a Movement

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Three successful Black men and one successful Black woman have come together to launch a publishing company that is not just a business but part of a movement. The primary goal of Prosperity Publications is to publish books, in all genres, that carry a positive message about the strength, beauty and wisdom that we, who are a part of the Black culture, inherited from our wonderful ancestors. Our message to the rest of the world is a very simple one, and that is we refuse to stand by any longer and allow others to demean our culture based on a distorted definition of black. There has never been a greater insult in the history of all civilization, than what has been hurled at us for centuries. Black is ugly, black is the devil, black is evil; black is wicked, dismal and represents failure. We at Prosperity Publications say, “No More and Enough is Enough.” It is time for us to define ourselves and if others don’t approve we feel no obligation to them.

As primary keeper of the vision for this company, I arrived at my determination to no longer accept these insults through the wise words of three cultural icons. The first comes from the writings of Langston Hughes, in a book review of Native Son that appeared in the Crisis Magazine in 1941. Writing about the tragic character Bigger Thomas, Langston asked the question, “Where are the Black heroes in our literature?” The greatest of all our cultural icons was alluding to the failure of Black writers to create heroes in their works. Hughes went on to elaborate, “Where, in all our books is that compelling flame of spirit and passion that makes a man say, ‘I too am a hero because my race has produced heroes.” The great poet was expressing his disappointment with the manner that Blacks were depicted in novels at that time. He believed there should be a better balance in character portrayals. Not all Black men and women were troubled souls like Bigger, and not all Black men and women found it impossible to deal with both poverty and being black. He suggested it was time to break the cycle of negative characterization of the race.

The second significant influence came from another literary giant, Ralph Ellison, author of the great American classic, Invisible Man. He made the following observation as early as 1944, “The solution to the problem confronting the Negro will be achieved when he is able to define himself for what he is and what he desires to be.” Ellison obviously is referring to the fact that Black Americans have always allowed others to define them. And the definition has been based on the perverted concept of the color black as projected onto a race of people and their culture. Over seventy years later, Prosperity Publications is determined to do exactly what the great essayist and novelist suggested. We will define who we are through our publications.

And finally I was moved by the poetry of Dr. Maya Angelou:

“You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt,

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

 The sheer genius of Dr. Angelou is that she captures the essence of our struggle for a positive identification in this country, in four simple lines. She ends, however, with a message of hope, and despite the insults we have endured over the centuries we still have the capacity to rise.

The four managing partners and our investors are committed to participating in the larger movement to change the negative direction of our culture. We strongly believe, however, it begins with a new definition for the word black, and that also means alternatives to a lot of the music, the television programs, and the literature that dominates and inundates our communities. We choose to take on this battle in the literary world. Our company has a history of involvement in projects such as creative writing courses, lectures on our culture, and of course the publication of works that we feel meet our criteria of uplifting the culture and the race.

We invite all writers who share our vision to submit their works for review. We invite all readers also to peruse our works and strongly encourage you to read our publications. They are and will continue to be entertaining, enlightening and empowering. Join us in the movement to make a difference in the lives of our youth and adults as we work to make all our people repeat James Brown’s famous verse, “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud.”

Visit Us Soon www.prosperitypublications.com

They Are Educated, Sophisticated and Independent Sisters of Today

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 2Traci 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.

RLawsonRhonda 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.

TMoffettToschia 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.

AWinsteadAntoinette 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.”