Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud!
“A Trailblazer is someone who doesn't necessarily have the same opportunity, the same leg up as another person, but they emerge as a superstar in their lives. A Trailblazer is somebody who paves that path for themselves… and someone who blazes that trail for future generations, they don't look back.” Forging ahead for the good of the community at large.
Amanda Gorman, the youngest poet ever to perform at a presidential inauguration, recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at today’s Presidential inauguration.
Transcript of The Hill We Climb:
Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world, when day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is hours before we knew it, somehow we do it, somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time, where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man. And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us. We close the divide, because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true, that even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried. That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious, not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lighten the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made, that is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare, it’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we stepped into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith, we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption. We feared at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, “how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?”, now we assert, “how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?” We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation.
Because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain. If we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change, our children’s birth right.
So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with, every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise through the gold-limbed hills of the west, we will rise from the windswept northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover, in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it for there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.
This is democracy's day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew. And America has risen to the challenge. Today we celebrate the triumph, not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded.
We've learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.
So today I stood on hallowed ground, where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the Capitol's very foundation, we come together as one nation under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries. As we look ahead in our uniquely American way, restless, bold, optimistic, and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be.
I've taken the sacred oath each of those patriots before me has taken. The oath first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us, on we the people, who seek a more perfect union. This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we've come so far, but we still have far to go.
We'll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain. Few people in our nation's history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we're in now.
A once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country. It's taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed, a cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.
A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear, and now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.
To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy. Unity.
In another January, on New Year's Day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. When he put pen to paper, the president said, and I quote, "if my name ever goes down into history, it'll be for this act, and my whole soul is in it."
"My whole soul is in it." Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.
Uniting to fight the foes we face, anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things, important things.
We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.
So, with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasked of our time, sustained by faith, driven by conviction, and devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts.
May God bless America and may God protect our troops.
Thank you, America.
President Joe Biden
January 20, 2021
Chicago, IL (January 20, 2021)- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®. is pleased to announce that the service organization has declared Wednesday, January 20, 2021 as Soror Kamala D. Harris Day. Members are encouraged to wear shades of pink and a strand of pearls to mark the historic occasion. Vice President-Elect Harris was initiated in the Alpha Chapter of the AKA at Howard University, an HBCU in Washington, D.C.
“Like so many of you, I am simply beaming with pride as we witness the inauguration ceremony of a HBCU graduate, member of the Divine Nine , and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kamala D. Harris, to the Office of Vice President of the United States, said AKA International President and CEO Dr. Glenda Glover.
“This event will certainly be a momentous occasion that will go down in the annals of our archives as one of the greatest days the founders’ of Alpha Kappa Alpha could have envisioned. Today will be an extraordinary day for Alpha Kappa Alpha and the Divine Nine, and I can hardly wait!”
In addition to the attire, sorority members will host virtual Inauguration Watch Parties with chapter members, line sisters, and others to celebrate the historic occasion. They will also fill social media timelines with a profile frame in honor of Vice President Harris. When sworn in, Harris will be the first woman to ever hold the second most powerful position in our country
A life worth living and a man willing to share his wisdom, PUM sends our condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Josifani M. Moyo, 79, who died December 9, 2020. A mathematics professor who taught at the Bidwell Training Center on the North Side of Pittsburgh, he began as a math instructor at the career training institution in 1972, according to Post-Gazette archives. He also served as the director at the academic support center at Bidwell. A true King of all Kings...
PUM had the honor of saluting and interviewing Mr. Moyo in the past, and respectfully share his words of encouragement to our audience:
“My arrival to the U.S.A. was in August 1963. That happened to be the time of
the March in Washington. Civil rights was the topic of the day. I was invited by
Pittsburgh organizers but my college had an early start in August and I was
focused on the task at hand. I did follow all the reports on the march and Dr. M
L King’s address. The civil rights movement relates my firm conviction that all
individuals can achieve their goals if they work hard and take advantage of
educational opportunities most states provide. As one who benefitted from
scholarship education at no cost to my family, I have made it my life goal to give
back by engaging adult students to make improvements in their academic abilities
and take advantage of the vocational programs our school provides.
Nothing comes easy. All progress in life requires our best effort and although
there are no guaranties we must continue to engage those who are short sighted.
A better tomorrow requires us to do our best to prepare now for whatever might
come in the future”
Josifani Munyika Moyo, affectionately referred to as Daddy, Pop-Pop, Uncle Joe and by most simply as “Joe Moyo”, was born on October 3, 1941 in Zishavane, Zimbabwe.
Joe is the eldest son of six children born to Jairos Munyika and Shoorayi Shumba Moyo of the Shona speaking Bantu Tribe. Joe was fiercely devoted to his family, particularly to his mother, to whom he often described as “the kindest person one could ever meet”.
By 1957, at the young age of 16, Joe was one of only four students in his primary class selected to attend Fletcher High School, a prominent government sponsored all male boarding school in Gweru, Zimbabwe. Upon graduation from Fletcher High School in 1963, Joe received a full scholarship to continue his academic pursuits in the United States at Waynesburg University, Waynesburg, PA, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics and Chemistry. After graduation, Joe attended Purdue University in West LaFayette Indiana, where in 1970 he earned a Master of Science Degree in Chemical Physics.
During this period in 1967 Joe married Janet Lee Patterson of Pittsburgh, PA. Together they spent the next fifty-four years through life together, during which time they produced two daughters, who became the center of Joe’s and Janet’s life. Erita Munyika Moyo was born in 1967 and Selina Munyika Moyo followed in 1974.
From 1972 to 2020 Joe was the Academic Program Director and Mathematics Instructor at Bidwell Cultural Training Center-Manchester Craftman’s Guild, Pittsburgh, PA., where he was noted for his very successful and unique style of teaching, known as “Moyo’s Math”.
At the sacrifice of his own desires, wants, and needs, Joe’s complete humility, devotion to his family and his personal values based on giving, and giving , and giving has left an unreplicable imprint of giving on his family, both in the United States and in Zimbabwe, and the City of Pittsburgh.
Consequently, Joe leaves a legacy, which was truly ordained by GOD himself before the beginning of this world His deep affection and lifelong passion for golf, which he developed during his youth in Zimbabwe, continued to the end of his life. In fact one year Joe’s endless enjoyment of golf rewarded him with a remarkable hole-inone. Joe’s sudden and unexpected departure has left an enormous void filled with pain for his family and all of those who loved him. This is chiefly due to the one common denominator in Joe’s life, which was simple and quite clear, as his math lessons. It was “Love”.
Josifani Munyika Moyo is survived by his beloved wife and life partner for fifty-four years, Janet Lee Moyo; Daughters Erita Munyika Moyo, Plainfield, Illinois; Selina Munyika Moyo Anderson, Son-in-Law Charles Anderson, Esquire, and adored granddaughter Leah Erita Anderson, Fort Mill, SC. Joe is also survived by two direct siblings’ eldest sister Erita Tagwi and younger brother Zivai Mbrenego Moyo of Zimbabwe. Joe is loved and cherished by scores of students in the Pittsburgh area and an army of extended family both in the United States and worldwide, and a host of friends.
Joe’s only and last request is to have his remains returned to the soil and land of which he originated.
Honoring the legacy of Josifani Munyika Moyo
Statement from Family...
It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman.
Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV.
A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.
It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.
He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side.
The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
but by the content of their character."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.-
When it comes to Americans making one of their most important 2020 decisions, the election of a President and Vice President, Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has not come true for the little child referenced when Kamala Harris said to Joe Biden, “You know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day, and that little girl was me.” Instead of judging by the content of the 55-year-old’s meteoric career as it pertains to her becoming Vice President of the United States, naysayers and outright haters are judging Senator Harris by factors such as her race, gender, national origin, and choice of a spouse.
The worst misogynists have publicly declared Senator Harris to be a “nasty,” “mean,” “horrible,” “phony” woman. Other would be detractors disregard the following facts:
· Following Harris’ graduation from Westmount High School in Quebec, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Howard University and, subsequently, a Law Degree from Hastings Law School;
· She became Deputy District Attorney for the Alameda County District Attorney's Office;
· She served as managing Attorney of the Career Criminal Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney's Office; headed the San Francisco City Attorney's Division on Families and Children; and was elected as the San Francisco District Attorney;
· While serving as California Attorney General, she had a stellar victory by ending negotiations for a settlement from the country's five largest financial institutions for improper mortgage practices and, subsequently, obtained a $20 million settlement which was five times the original proposed figure for California; and
· After being elected to the Senate, she has served on the Senate Budget, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Judiciary, and Intelligence Committees.
Sadly, as was the case with President Barack Obama, some sickened by racism folks cast aspersions regarding whether Senator Harris is “Black enough,” both in terms of skin color as well as other misguided essentialist views regarding what it takes to be “Black,” e.g. “maybe she isn’t Black enough because her parents were highly educated bourgeois folks in Berkeley California.” Added to this counterproductive narrative regarding “Blackness” is the “Misogyny Litmus Test” for a “Black” electoral official. This view, held by some Blacks as well as Whites, maintains that the “ideal Black” is one who is a function of miscegenation and immigration, i.e.,  someone whose demeanor has been supposedly enhanced by a mix of “White,” “Caribbean,” “Asian,” or “African” blood;  someone with relatively recent geographic roots outside of the United States; and, in short,  any “Exotic Black” other than a “pure” descendant of African slaves in America.
Then there are those who ignore the biblical admonition not to “tear asunder” what “God has put together.” They, along with the racists who for centuries prevented interracial marriages, just can’t take Senator Harris at her word when she stated, "Look, I love my husband, and he happened to be the one that I chose to marry, because I love him… and he loves me.”
Before engaging in any of the foregoing foolishness regarding Senator Harris, people should at least read her book, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey. Therein, for example, the reader will find Harris’ detailed analysis of how health disparities begin “in the delivery room;” the need for “every medical school in the country to require implicit bias training for their students…;” and why “… improving health outcomes across the board demands that we transform the health care system itself.”
Before offering irrelevant criticism, read carefully Harris’ analysis of how “The criminal justice system punishes people for their poverty. …Whether or not someone can get bailed out of jail shouldn’t be based on how much money he has in the bank. Or, the color of his skin.” Review her criticism of the fact that Blacks pay 35 percent higher bail than Whites for the same charge and how Latinos pay nearly 20 percent more. In response to this miscarriage of justice, Senator Harris introduced legislative actions to replace the bail bond system.
Now is not the time for petty presidential politics given that our nation is sinking into an abyss of lies, deceits, exploitation, manipulation according to race and ethnicity, misogyny, homophobia, and other deplorable acts similar to those during the time that Hitler desired to make Germany great again. With Americans dying by the second as a result of a grossly mismanaged health pandemic, now is not the time to engage in castigations regarding “birtherism.”
Now is the time to heed Senator Harris’ admonition to us, i.e., “Even as our democracy faces an assault unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes, we have to remember that our system works when people who care about the Unite States stand up and participate. My daily challenge to myself is to be part of the solution, to be a joyful warrior in the battle for the soul of the country. My challenge to you is to join that effort. Let’s not throw up our hands when it’s time to roll up our sleeves.”
Jack L. Daniel
Co-Founder, Freed Panther Society
Contributor, Pittsburgh Urban Media
Author, Negotiating a Historically White University While Black
August 16, 2020
Senator Kamala Harris, is the Democratic vice presidential nominee in the 2020 election.
Oronde Sharif remembers meeting Vernell A. Lillie when he was 10. He and his brother were always in tow when his busy mother Shona, a choreographer, dancer and Pitt lecturer, was out and about at meetings and events. Lillie, a former associate professor of Africana Studies and founder of Pitt’s Kuntu Repertory Theatre, was a close friend of Shona’s.
Years later, when Sharif was an undergraduate student at Pitt, he found himself in Lillie’s office more often than his mother’s.
“I would go there just to talk,” said Sharif, who is now director of Pitt’s Shona Sharif African Drum and Dance Ensemble, part of Africana Studies. “And not about acting … we talked about student life. Dr. Lillie was like that mother, grandmother or mentor who had so much knowledge.”
Lillie, who retired from Pitt in 2006, died on May 11, her 89th birthday.
A poster from the Kuntu Repertory Theatre Records, housed at Pitt. (Kuntu Repertory Theatre Collection, c. 1970-2013, CTC.2015.01, Curtis Theatre Collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System)
Born in 1931 in Hempstead, Texas, Lillie arrived in Pittsburgh in 1969 to pursue a doctorate at Carnegie Mellon University. In 1973, she began teaching in what was then Pitt’s Department of Black Community, Education, and Research and, along with prolific poet and playwright Rob Penny, founded Kuntu the following year. The new theater company exposed Pittsburgh audiences to cutting edge ideas, art, culture and the Black community’s social and political concerns. For nearly four decades, it featured works by Penny, Pulitzer Prize-winning Pittsburgh native August Wilson and other Black playwrights. The Black Arts Movement was thriving in cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh, and Lillie and her peers were in the forefront.
Kuntu was the first company to mount the August Wilson play “Homecoming” in 1976, which Lillie directed. Actors such as Sala Udin, Emmy-winner Esther Rolle and Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company founder Mark Southers, performed on the Kuntu stage, located at Pitt’s Stephen Foster Memorial, and later at Alumni Hall. Chadwick Boseman of “Black Panther” fame also had a play staged by Kuntu and acted in it, under Lillie’s direction.
Sharif remembers Lillie, along with people like Shona, Penny and former department chair Barbara Sizemore as providing the depth, soul and energy to that corner of campus. Students would hang out in their offices, listening to advice and absorbing like sponges.
Many of Sharif’s friends were actors and some say that studying under Lillie was the highlight of their Pitt experience. Sharif enjoyed watching the Kuntu rehearsals and always stayed late after a final performance to help strike the set, just to be of help to Lillie.
“I just gravitated to her,” he said.
Sala Udin, who acted in Kuntu plays and eventually served on Pittsburgh City Council for 10 years, said Lillie was “a serious taskmaster” of a director, compared to others. And she was all about educating her audience.
“She integrated teaching into her directing,” he said. “She was always serious about people have an intellectual curiosity and an understanding of Black theatre.”
Lillie was known for opening up Kuntu to community members and non-theater majors. Even those who lacked acting experience were welcome to audition for one of the plays, which often used music and African themes to bring stories of Black life to its audiences.
Pitt Professor of History Laurence Glasco, whose career at Pitt started around the time Lillie arrived, says he was always impressed by the quality of the Kuntu performances, including many works by Penny, whom Lillie liked to showcase.
“I found a lot of human interest in the plays, though they had a political message,” he said. “Vernell had an orientation in Black consciousness and Black Power but it didn’t overwhelm the work or make it one-dimensional at all.”
Glasco also enjoyed the “talk-back sessions” Lillie offered at the end of a performance, in which the cast would return to the stage and engage with audience members.
Lillie and actor Lamman Rucker at a National Black Theater Festival. (Courtesy of Lamman Rucker)
While he was a Duquesne University student, actor Lamman Rucker was in the cast of Penny’s play “Nefertari Rising” and Lillie made an indelible impression on him. As she did often, Lillie brought in a guest director, this time Woodie King Jr., the founding director of the New Federal Theatre in the lower east side of Manhattan. The experience inspired Rucker to move to New York to work with King.
“There’s so much excellence that you see on stage, Broadway, screen and through regional theater, it leads back to Dr. Lillie’s leadership,” he said. “So much of what I say and do has come from her, especially while training artists now.”
Rucker, who has appeared in Tyler Perry films and on the popular “Law & Order” TV series, said Lillie inspired him to establish The Black Gents of Hollywood, a Black male artist’s collective.
“Now that she’s an ancestral spirit, she’ll continue to guide me,” he said.
Lillie’s robust career at Pitt garnered her many awards, including the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1986, a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 1998 and the Pennsylvania Creative Community Award in 2006. A scholarship in Lillie’s name was established at Dillard University in New Orleans, her alma mater. She kept Kuntu alive even after her retirement. The company’s final performances were at the Homewood Library in 2013. But Sharif, Udin and the others feel her presence will stay with them.
Said Rucker: “She breathed life into me and so many people. Her work, vigor and love for us will continue to pour through us forever.“
A treasure trove of items and correspondence related to Kuntu Repertory Theatre’s 40-year journey at Pitt is being catalogued at the University Library System. Donated in 2015 by the family of Vernell A. Lillie and facilitated by the Kuntu staff and board of directors, the items filled 500 boxes when they arrived at the University Library System’s Ford E. and Harriet R. Curtis Theatre Collection.
Project archivist Megan Massanelli said the archives are being separated into two collections—the Dr. Vernell A Lillie Papers and the Kuntu Repertory Theatre Records. She says the boxes contained several hundred audio and video recordings, and a special grant came through last fall to help the library preserve and digitize them, including recordings from the Bob Johnson Papers.
The Lillie Papers will include syllabi for classes, personal research materials, academic records, department correspondence and personal letters, photos and school yearbooks. Materials cover the years 1950 through 2013. The Kuntu Records will contain written, audio and photographic records documenting the history and activities of Kuntu Repertory Theatre.
“Kuntu was the predominant Black performing arts group in Pittsburgh for more than 35 years,” said Massanelli. “It provided a platform for Black artists and technicians and examined the Black experience with the goal of creating personal growth and social change.”
While there is no official finding aid available yet, information on the two collections can be found in the following places:
Source: University of Pittsburgh
The Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh was also the site of the National Negro Opera Company, which flourished from 1941 to 1962. It set the stage was set for the rise of Kuntu Black Theatre to reach international influence.