Marielle Franco – Afro-Brazilian Martyr for Human Rights

Marielle Franco

The United Nations has initiatives to recognize people of African Descent which started in 2015 and go until 2024. This includes all people who were affected by the Slave Trade. Populations in major countries in South and North America as well as the islands and adjoining countries like Mexico.

This article about Marielle will hopefully offer a connection with mutual struggles and challenges for people of African Descent in and outside of the contiguous United States and its provinces and detached states. Marielle as Afro-Brazilian came from the very community she knew, loved and fought for on the national stage. Marielle Franco was also called a ‘Black Human Rights Activist’. As council person she represented residents of Rio De Janeiro. She had ambitions, as a civil society activist, and according the ‘NPR’ article campaigned  ‘against lethal methods routinely used by security forces with the city’s poorest neighborhoods’. As ‘a wave of anger and indignation on social media and protests in the streets’, according to the NPR article, her legacy is of a ‘charismatic young woman with a one record of championing social causes in a metropolis plagued by issues of violence, race, and poverty’.

I learned about her on the day of her funeral when several thousands of people some with signs saying,  “How many more have to die?” Does this sound familiar ? The obvious answer is from the USA Black Community and the another from Student protests over gun laws. She was shot ‘returning from an event to empowering black women in Brazil, a cause she passionately championed’. (NPR article) Given the civilian casualties, in 2017 of 6,731 and in one month at 2018 649, included people killed during police operations. The president of Brazil recently gave military jurisdiction over security in the state of Rio De Janeiro. Marielle spoke out about more violence, blaming recent homicides (shockingly two youths killed and thrown in the gutter) on the police while declaring the ‘military police unit’ as “the battalion of death’ based on number of civilians shot by its officers.  “The poor people are black,” he said. “The worst opportunities are for blacks. The worst schools are in the black neighborhoods (shanty towns) or in favelas.” according to a visiting Brazilian speaking to the St. Louis American Newspaper.

Her positions as a feminist, leader of anti-racist movement and inequality drew mainly the middle class while the poor needed more engagement. She was born in a shanty town grew up with more freedom in the 80’s then her people now have present day Brazil 2018. As a mother of an eighteen year old daughter, she was persistent, achieving her masters in public administration. Her life causes and death had reached the many thousands of people who poured into the streets protesting her ‘assassination’. The crosshairs of police brutality, gang control of ‘shanty towns’, and crackdown on violence turned over to the military made the focus of protest against violence a dilemma for a young leader caught in the cross fire. The St. Louis American newspaper article also quoted the visiting Brazilian as saying that his country had more mixed race couples but was also more segregated than the states. Some writers on her loss wrote about hopelessness for Black People in Brazil. She will not be forgotten.

The struggle for various rights here in the USA and the turning back of hard fought legislature for voting, and women’s rights as well as rounding up immigrants without cause is the present day climate in the USA. This only reinforces the point that the battle is not over and may never be; one thing though, we are not alone. Read David Wilson’s excellent article, about Marielle Franco, in OKAY AFRICA, a documentary film maker and founder of TheGrio.com, now a resident of Salvadore, Bahia: http://www.okayafrica.com/marielle-franco-police-murder/

Article and Art by Lillian L. Thompson for lillianonline.us

Naomi Osaka – Tennis Rising Star- Haitian-American-Japanese

Naomi Osaka, Tennis Player

First and foremost the unseeded Naomi Osaka won the Indian Wells Open this past weekend (March 18). The same tournament who’s past leadership guided a policy of exclusion directed at the Williams Tennis Dynasty. Just a few years ago those now in control of the tournament opened their arms wide to both Venus and Serena. These two legends came with trepidation’s given past history. Now that has all changed and Venus the taller one and also the most active one returned with impressive results over the last several years, despite Indian Wells missing her youthful prime performances. Now they are experiencing another resurgence by Venus this year at 37 years of age only to perhaps to see her lose staying power in a defeat to a 20 year old in the semi-finals. If this had gone the way I dreamed, It would have been the opportunity to appreciate the other 20 year old finalist Naomi Osaka play her tennis idol Venus Williams (8). Just a note that Venus knocked out her sister, Serena, a new mom, upon her return to serious competition. Serena will return!

I have been watching the rise of Naomi Osaka for several years. She has the tennis star physique, tall, strong, fast, serves at 125 mph with varying spin and paces and apparently got her mental act together. That demonstration was apparent in her defeat of the world’s number one, Simone Halep in the semi-final run at Indian Wells. The championship was unambiguous as was the final score (63 62) against her also 20 year old opponent Daria Kasatkina ranked (20). This win places Osaka at number 22, her highest so far. Statistics shows she wins at 59.29% and this is also her first WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) title a major accomplishment for an upcoming tennis player. Her grand slam results have been consistent at 3rd or 4th rounds.

Naomi, born in Japan has a Haitian Father and a Japanese Mother and moved to the United States of America at three years old. She has a sister Mari, also a professional tennis player. She is coached by David Taylor, a veteran Australian coach. Her new sparring partner, Sascha Bajin, formerly worked with Serena during her Grand Slam runs and most recently Wozniacki, who just recently won the Australian Open 2018. The future of professional tennis will have major nation representation. Naomi represents Japan yet she remains a Global Afro Woman in my book and that is part of my recognition. How many will the young Osaka influence from all the nations she represents? As many as possible, I hope! Her website is naomgosaka.com. Visit us at artbylillianlthompson.com.

PS: Since the initial writing of this article, Naomi Osaka played and defeated Serena Williams at the Miami Open only to fall the next round. I hope she remembers that it is difficult to beat Serena twice and savored her victory. Given her size and talent she and Serena will most surely meet again and that will be another story.

Article and art by Lillian L Thompson of Lillianonline.us

Rihanna, Snapchat, and Domestic Violence: Power of Voice

 

Rihanna

I normally do not select high profile Global Afro Women who are doing very well in the media, besides my community has a pretty good Idea of who they are. In this instance, it is important. My respect continues to grow for Rihanna. Do not ask me about her latest this or that which is for her generation to address. I’ve seen her in fashion, and a Central Park performance. I have seen snippets of her in photos receiving awards and of course her past public love affair with Chris Brown. Both young, wealthy rising stars. She is a success story. That’s it!

The latest Snapchat app designed to enlist users to decide whether to ‘slap’ Rihanna or ‘punch’ Chris Brown drew a comment from Rihanna putting them on notice. Many people want fame yet this display of what I would call ‘a predatory hustle’ from Snapchat reflected the problem of a public life in pursuit of your craft and love relationships. It also shows how these billion dollar companies draw attention to their platforms. Apparently this was unneeded as on 60 Minutes last evening (March 18, 2018) reported on the upcoming generation of Saudi youths favorite past-time is Snapchat. Going after ‘Domestic Violence’ is the low blow of this new app ad, which the company pulled from the web, though it continues to circulate through other sources. Rihanna’s reaction with her 60 million followers caused the stock to tank 4% or 800 million dollars after saying the ‘app-oligy’ ought to be thrown away. Making it clear to the observer, she did not have many feelings about it, pointing out the many people going through or into domestic violence relationships now. (NPR article)

While some states are grappling with domestic violence as it relates to gun control, this being ‘Women History Month’ and high schoolers walkout due to gun violence, our cute technology companies are sitting in the back rooms apparently OUT OF TOUCH with reality. They had to be and their whole corporate system had to be to fund this kind of gaming for public consumption. This, what I consider a black or white issue, begs the question, are they part of the problem or part of solution. Which is Snapchat?

Article and art by Lillian L. Thompson of Lillianonline.us

Lillian L. Thompson, Visual Artist Re-emerges

Art by LT Exhibit Mailer pdf

 

Why re-emerge as a visual artist after so many years of being a designer, project manager    or coordinator of the built environment? As it goes, my youth was involved with drawing among other things (like dancing), exposing more talent after entering Howard University. Fortunate to work under some impressive professors and national acclaimed artists. Regardless that I had my sites set on Interior Design and later studied Architecture also with impressive teachers. While art is part of architecture and interior design, actual drawing has suffered because of technology requirements. Perhaps the very best Architects, which I respect, especially  those with great talent and foresight to envision a building, still form sketchy drawings and move through a process to technical and artistic buildings i.e Michael Graves and Phil Freelon.

In the beginning of 2017 I picked up my favorite pens and started sketching again. What poured out of me were not masterpieces but unique expressions of a quiet spirit. I remain an artist. I am still excited about the idea that art can tell stories and empower souls. I have moved in four steps with my drawings which I will show at the Exhibit on April 6, 2018, a First Friday in Downtown Raleigh at the Revive Raleigh Massage Therapy space at 1151/2 second level. I will bring my recent discoveries, as I return to the endless possibilities of artistic expression. My reveal at this age is as exciting as my triumphs in the design field against many tribulations.

This work is causing reflection and introspection for me as a human being,  an African-American, all the many titles I’ve had and more importantly, citizen of the Globe and member of the Global Afro Woman family, of which I intend to investigate and flourish within. This first public exhibit, an adventure which I hope many who come to see can look for my evolution over this year as a new beginning. This link will reveal a flyer for the exhibit.  Art by LT Exhibit Mailer pdf

Art and Article by Lillian L. Thompson of Lillianonline.us

 

 

Gloria Thompson – We are Black History!

 

 

Gloria Thompson

Breaking News – Twelve-year old Gloria Thompson along with classmates from elementary school, Michael Jones, Lance Newman and Ronald Deskins, desegregated schools (Stratford Junior High) in Arlington, Virginia on February 21959. Youths have been breaking barriers for a very long time and today’s trauma victims in Parkland, Florida are part of a long tradition of our civil and human rights movements. Just as we recognize our youth today (2018) are savvy and well organized, the integration at the Stratford Junior High School in 1959 was also a successfully orchestrated event.

National and local organizations had been involved in legal challenges. There were IQ testing and selection of the chosen four. Intense parental involvement included teachers from the community prepared the students’ academically and mentally.  Community leaders coordinated between the school system, her community, and everybody’s parents. It was a single landmark event for Arlington County. That was also true for our segregated community of ‘Halls Hill’ locked in off both sides of Lee Highway, and anchored by John M. Langston Elementary School.

Gloria’s sister, Clarissa, had been a named claimant in court battles to facilitate the integration of Arlington County schools. She had finished top of her class, at the segregated Hoffman-Boston High School in South Arlington. Kids were used to being bussed to a school far away from the nearby Stratford Junior High.  That day would change everything, months and years followed by the second and third wave of students who fought in court or became eligible to go to Stratford based on grades. Many students, from the community, chose to stay and go to the segregated Hoffman-Boston. Also the kids from ‘Halls Hill’ went to other nearby desegregated schools thereby splitting up the youth in the community. Gloria was popular at the segregated school and had made new friends. With this change, she would become isolated and far away from her new friends one normally would have in junior high school. She never complained.

A big driver for integrating schools was Gloria’s Mother who believed that a good education was the ticket to success. Our activist Mother (yes Gloria is my sister) wanted her eldest daughter, Clarissa, to have higher education ensuring her success and self sufficiency by going to college. Mother had us demonstrating at local movie houses, going to civil rights organizing meetings in Alexandria, putting her children in lawsuits challenging the status quo, in a relentless effort to get her son and daughters well educated. Gloria’s high test results made her the only girl in this school desegregation in Arlington. The only girl with women swirling around her, from the community, dedicated to her success.

As the youth in Parkland, Florida have been scarred by the loss of their friends and suffering psychological damage, so it was true for Gloria and her classmates. On the outside were changes that opened doors and improved educational access. On the inside she had to depend on our small segregated community for social development. Moving from Stratford Junior High to integrating the overwhelmingly white Washington-Lee High School (W-L) was a continuation of isolation dedicated purely to the importance of learning opportunities but a social flop with psychological challenges day in and day out. Probably due to my mother’s insistence, my brother attended W-L briefly, due to fist fights over insults, he later finished high school with a GED. (He was a warrior).  They thought the workshop teacher was a janitor! The hard work of desegregation put Gloria Thompson and her classmates on the map in the Halls Hill (Now Highview Park) community  and well documented in the Arlington, County Library.

It was a sacrifice and many fail to appreciate that fact. When young people, including at the time, my Mother’s children, who were thrust in front of Judges, School Boards, a sea of new and different cultural subsets of students, demonstrations to gain access to local movie houses in the face of Nazi opposition and relentless self-consciousness to avoid the wrong move cannot be quantified. As we celebrate Gloria, we acknowledge all those in and out of the spotlight during that time, since that time, and even today that have the courage to step forward and make that bold move for change forges a country meaningfulness, and proud of making a difference toward its future and democratic potential. What can we say? We say thank you over and over again.

Art and article by Lillian L. Thompson, for Lillianonline series ‘Black Herstory Month’

 

 

 

 

Nigerian-Americans a 2018 Princess Olympic Bobsled Story

 

Nigerian-American Women Bobsled Team

Yes; it is true! 30 years after the Jamaican men and film ‘Cool Runnings’, this Nigerian-American Women’s Go Fund Me team of former track stars had set out on a mission to put Africa on the map for a cold winter sport. The United States long Olympic history in summer and winter games gives them unique attention in our media. They made the rounds including the Ellen DeGeneres show, dancing their way onto the stage and into our hearts. They were ‘fun loving’ but the back story was about incredible hard work and sacrifice made to move from track and field, transitioning into bobsledding, going from zero to 100 to learn and qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics in a few short years.

The imaginative force behind this effort was also the driver of the bobsled, Seun Adigen. Her vision and a hand-made wooden practice bobsled was the beginning of a journey with a goal to make it to the Olympics. Their story is unique in that they are American born and educated children of Nigerian parents. They represented Nigeria in track and field in the Olympics in 100 meters. Apparently track stars are most adept to the bobsled sport. In the case of the American team, they are sought after talent.  Seun Adigen then recruited two Nigerian-American women former track stars to join the team. They gave up normal activities so many at their age enjoy. Instead they put their focus on going for a mission of qualifying in bobsledding for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. They achieved that first step. All in great spirits brakemen, Ngozi Onwumere, on left in drawing, and Akuoma Omeoga had great synergy to commit to the work and be actively engaged with the marketing and getting sponsors. They would travel to Nigeria for TV interviews and promotional support.  They raised enough money to travel and obtain their own bobsled. They also formed a federation for bobsledding in Nigeria. While the warm climate continent had only eight countries participate in the 2018 Olympics, most Africans don’t even have the Winter Olympics on their radar screens. This is truly a mission of significant proportions, yet it brought great pride to Nigeria.

As it turns out, they were last (20th) in the Olympics behind the Gold Medalist from Germany, off by 7 seconds, if you can imagine the 19 others including 3rd from finish, Jamaica, that were competing. Yes, after 30 years there was the first women’s bobsled team from Jamaica. Despite drama of one team member leaving with the bobsled and scrambling to get another they actually beat the Nigerian team by two spots. A closer look at this fierce competition of milliseconds made up the differences between the final medalist teams. In the final runs, the Americans were most destined to win the gold. They were well positioned and had the best  success record. After three runs though, Afro-German driver, Mariama Jamanka, of the Germany team had the highest average scoring runs to win the gold medal; the African-American team (Elana Meyers Taylor and Laura Gibbs) got silver, and the Canadian bronze team winners had, Phylicia George a brakeman, an Afro-Canadian member.

Go figure, of the six finalists (two to a team) four were of African descent. As the Nigerian team got our attention in the states. Jamaica (Carrie Russell and Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian) were also making history despite their disappointing relationship with a German coach, who owned and took the bobsled upon unexpectedly quitting during the Olympics. Something they amazingly overcame, even though third from last. T

he Global Afro Woman, has much to be proud of in dominating the 2018 Olympic bobsledding event. We are very proud of her determination and competitive spirits.  Congratulations my protagonists!

 

Art and article by Lillian L Thompson for Lillianonline

Yamiche Alcindor – Multimedia Journalist

 

Yamiche Alcindor

The New York Times claimed her as their former national reporter covering politics and social justice issues. Yamiche Alcindor, is now  with “The PBS Newshour” as a White House correspondent, and was mentored by the late Gwen Ifill, (PBS Newshour) an American Peabody Award-winning Journalist, newscaster and author. Yamiche ‘continues as a political contributor to NBC and MSNBC’, currently she covers Congress, ‘the impact of the Trump Administration’s policies on working class Americans and people of color and intersection between race and politics in America’ according to Managing Editor at PBS Newshour, Judy Woodruff,  who was struck by the combination of her ‘eye for detail, crisp writing and passion for the craft with a gift for communicating on air.’

In the trenches, Yamiche Alcindor has ‘reported on the Newton Conn. school shooting, the death of Trayvon Martin, and police related protest in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore, Maryland.’

She was acknowledged in 2017 by The Root’s annual list of most influential African Americans in the country. That influence extends to a ‘1804 list’ awards honoring Haiti’s independence and recognizing influential Haitian-Americans. The National Association of Black Journalists gave her a nod as Emerging Journalist of the Year in 2013.

Alcindor holds a master’s degree in broadcast news and documentary filmmaking from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in English, government and African American studies from Georgetown University according to her bio on the PBS website.

Yamiche has become a trusted source for news in the black community. She is a native of Miami, Florida whose parents are native Haitians. Her love for writing started at a very young age. She did internships at The Seattle Times, Miami-Herald, and The Washington Post. After graduation in 2009 she began full time work as reporter at Newsday. Utilizing her fluent creole and French Language, Yamiche covered the Haitian earthquake ‘providing guidance’ to journalist. Yamiche defines herself as a multimedia journalist which drew the attention of USA Today where she worked from 2011 to 2015, during which time she gained her master’s from NYU. (Source from Defining Cultures and her Website.)

Yamiche is continuing to evolve professionally and her unique perspective could serve as a solid and reliable source of information on what is happening to people of African descent affected by slave trade across the Atlantic into South America, Caribbean Islands and lower United States. Many have entered the United States as refugees or immigrants seeking new beginnings. These days the news media is under attack so Yamiche Alcindor along with Joy Reid (AM Joy of MSNBC), another Haitian, have greater meaning as sources of truthful reporting in the USA community’s of color.

She is represented by WME (William Morris Endeavor out of Beverly Hills, California) and attorney Kathleen Conkey.

Art and article by Lillian L Thompson of Lillianonline

 

 

 

Amara La Negra – Afro-Latina Beauty and Brains

Amara La Negra

This USA born citizen and bred Dominican personifies the kind of beauty that shocks the long promoted standard images of Europeans. Who declared ‘Black is Beautiful’? Amara has grey eyes, and eye glass figure, a big round buttock, a thin nose, small lips, gorgeous dark skin and a huge afro. This combination of elements makes her Afro-Latina. She is popular in the Latina countries. They appreciate the range and variety of shapes, sizes and shades as ‘La Negra’ puts it. While Miami is considered the capital of South America, breaking into the rest of the USA is quite another feat. Amara speaks Spanish with an accent as if she were reared in Dominica and speaks perfect English as well. These combinations of physical attributes, talent as a singer/dancer performer, and fluent in Spanish has made her somewhat of a sensation.

Her breakthrough moment came with the VH+1 Hip Hop reality TV Series, this time in Miami. When she describes the show’ approach, it is being put into certain situations and reacting yet being aware of ones surroundings and career goals.  Her first show defined Amara La Negra’s potential legacy. Upon meeting a producer that help developing artist break into the American Market, she was challenged with changing her image. The comparison reflected one image is so much better than another for example he said ‘be less Macy Gray (natural hair) and more Beyonce’. The producer inquired whether her huge afro was a statement of being black as a noted ‘black power symbol’ (arm raised)? Before this ‘reality tv’ meeting Amara was not a spokesperson for colorism although she had experienced differences most of her life starting as a child performer. Her mother worked many jobs to ensure her vivacious and outgoing daughter had platforms to showcase her talents. Amara is committed to her mother’s happiness and thankful for her sacrifice. Her mother is also her advisor. La Negra walked away from that very established producer into several multimillion dollar contracts including a major record company and international manager.

Amara La Negra answer questions about her cause and has vocally challenged the Latina community to face up to their quiet acceptance of colorism within the culture. You can find her online doing interviews on radio talk shows, Hip Hop Miami, and articles about her interaction with the producer, who by the way, off set made fun of Amara’s hair style thus triggering her crusade. Despite the Latina producer being uncomfortable with her look. La Negra has made her hair even bigger with extensions, and declares this look is her most comfortable. Amara declares that her look is the ‘attention getter’ to raise the level of discussion for Latina to address discrimination due to ‘colorism’ within their cultures. Amara La Negra points out that all the South American countries and islands with people of Latina origin have people who look like her. She wants to represent a positive image for young girls. There were very few black Latina role models when she was growing up thereby looked to African Americans such as Whitney Houston and Donna Summers. Amara is flashy, spirited, sexy and talented with shade constantly being thrown at her. An example would be other Latina who do ‘black face’ mocking so-called European features and dark skin. While she builds her breakthrough career in the rest of States, she is to woman to be admired and respected. Amara La Negra will bring up all the stuff that we ‘outside of Miami’ deal with, such as my race vs your race ‘I’m ok, you’re not;  woman vs man sexism and power roles; and what is acceptable beauty in our marketplace. Do doubt she will challenges her Latina sisters and brothers to open up on colorism. Yes that includes ‘civil rights’ African Americans and their offsprings.

 

Art and Article by Lillian L. Thompson, founder of Lillianonline.us.

Zena Howard, Architect and Managing Director

 

Zena Howard, Architect

Data shows from the American Institute of Architects that .02 percent of their professionals are women of color. This makes Zena Howard an African American woman architect a very rare person indeed. She is well a documented rising star in the profession. During 2017, her title became principal and ‘managing director of the Durham and Charlotte offices’ of the International firm of Perkins + Will. Many articles from Perkins + Will promotes awareness of Zena’s career and successes as an architect. Zena is on LinkedIn, which shows her career jobs as project architect and eventually principal at The Freelon Group. Zena’s building projects include Anacostia Library, Human Resources Building in Durham, and smaller museums. Her tested capacity and experience made her most ideal to step into the managing director role after architect Phil Freelon, who remains the design director at Perkins + Will. Due to neuron effects of ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) he had to relinquish day to day operations. Many people may not be unaware that Freelon, at age 65, is still in the prime of his career as an architect and was acknowledged as ‘Architect of the Year’ by the American Institute of Architects December 2017. This places Zena at ‘up and coming’.

The ‘planned acquisition’ of the 60 member Freelon Group with Perkins + Will came amid work on the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC (which just won ‘Building of the Year’). The Freelon Group were the design Architects on that building in collaboration with lead designer, British-Ghanaian architect, David Adjaye;  J Max Bond (of NYC Davis Brody Bond (deceased (2009) was my former professor at Columbia and Julian Bond’s cousin) also a design partner along with the addition of a large interdisciplinary architectural/engineering firm SmithGroup to round out the winning team. Zena Howard, as design project architect, worked on construction of significant portions of the building for over eight years of her professional life.  Ensuring design details during construction, are what brings the building to its full potential. It’s the fine work that customers experience when visiting: quality of air, light, sight, sound, flow, surfaces and spaces as parts of a great building. Recall that .02 percentage of African American women are in the field of Architecture up from the 0.01 several decades ago.

It is very difficult to express the uniqueness and fragile circumstances of women in architecture as a few manage to rise and shine. Zena Howard established a successful route with progressive experience in the profession and still at a young age for evolving architects. One could follow her career for many years to come. I was referred to her near the end of her working days on the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I actually ran into her at a genealogy event in Durham. Zena was gracious; her personality was vibrant and energetic. I could see and sense that she was at a high point in her career reflecting great confidence and  mastery of her skills and talents.  Once we had a chance to talk after completion of the Museum, Zena spoke about her efforts and desire to help inspire and develop young African American women architects, something that is sorely needed. She was helpful in referring me to possible relationships and opportunities to work with Perkins + Will. I am aware that she was successful in connecting others. She is part of an impressive group of local women architects who recognize that mentoring and assisting with the development of women in architecture is a worthy effort. She according to articles is sought after as a speaker.

There are other impressive African American women architects from different locations around the country and sometimes heirs of their family businesses that deserve appreciation. Zena Howard did not even know what architecture was and discovered it from a TV show.  Born in Texas, lived in Rocky Mount, NC and upstate New York she learned about racism and experienced being made fun of by her school mates. She learned from that which gave her perspective on the importance of architecture in bringing people together. Fortunately for us she landed in Durham, North Carolina. Zena graduated from the University of Virginia. She began her career elsewhere and now has spent a major part of her professional career with The Freelon Group (10 years) and now through a planned acquisition is principal with the international renown firm of Perkins + Will.  Zena represents what so many women aspire to accomplish in the field of architecture and knowing that she is doing it with grace and dignity makes it most impressive. By working on the National Museum of African American History and Culture she has begun establishing a worthy legacy in the local, regional, national and international markets of which we all can be proud.

 

Art and article is by Lillian L. Thompson, creator of Lillianonline.us

Sonia Barnes – Strong History in Community

 

Sonia Barnes is a native of Wilson, North Carolina, whose father was president in the local AFL-CIO labor organization. Her world involved sit-ups, segregated schools, marching, working hard during summer time to crop tobacco, while learning the value of hard work and education. Her young life bloomed in the middle of the civil rights movement. She grew up with friends like former judge and now Congressman G. K. Butterfield and Attorney Toby Fitch. Sonia Barnes is a congressional liaison to Representative David Price for the 4th Congressional District of North Carolina, and also worked formerly with educator, Congressman Bob Etheridge.

Sonia’s wise mother taught her to respect everyone no matter what their economic status in life. She carries that one step further in her non-profit work in NCBWEN by fundraising for scholarships for the ‘Average ‘C’ grade students providing them with book bags and scholarships! She is also the Founder and CEO of the North Carolina Black Women Empowerment Network. (www.NCBWEN.org). Their ‘mission statement’

‘The North Carolina Black Women Empowerment Network’s supreme mission is to advance the wholeness and total well-being for black women through deliberate social, economic, physical, mental health and educational initiatives.’

Sonia has another titles as wife and ‘first lady’ under her husband’s ministerial leadership at the First Garner Church of Faith, in Garner, North Carolina. Sonia is majorly a mom and grandmother. She is constantly on her feet which is not lost on her husband, who reminds her of such. As the liaison with Congressman Price, she represents the district with dignity and elegance. Her background, experience, knowledge, awareness, and powerful presence make for a compelling speaker, presenter, and spokesman for District 4.

Sonia is not a bragger, yet she receives recognition and was informed to receive the ‘John Chavis Award’ in March. Her talents have placed her on several significant boards around Raleigh including Wake Med. She has vision, on a large scale, mostly because of her past work experiences with the State of North Carolina and her public role working for congressional representatives. Sonia has expressed the urgency of our people working together during segregation, we were forced to do so, now it is out of necessity that we respect others’ views and doing right by people. When you see Sonia and not know who she is, you may not be quite sure how to approach her, do not hesitate because what you’re seeing is a powerful image of authentic grace and style with a commitment to her people and the work of empowerment. Her warm Wilson hospitality does suit her as a ‘first lady’ in her own right.

 

Art and article by Lillian L. Thompson of https://lillianonline.us

Art and Articles by Lillian L. Thompson