Salute! The 6888th Postal Directory Battalion

Give them the medal!

In the European theater in World War II, General Patton bemoaned his troops’ low morale and pressed to have the distribution of soldiers’ mail prioritized as a boost to them. Contact through letters and packages was seen as vital as munitions to keeping the soldiers ready and able for combat. Under the leadership of the first director of the Women’s Army Corps, Oveta Culp Hobby and at the urging of Black leaders, such as Mary Macleod Bethune, African American women who had enlisted in The Women’s Army Corps, were assigned to the 6888th Postal Directory Battalion. The WAC, though segregated as the rest of the armed services, allowed African American women to enlist. The recruits quickly and efficiently relieved the logjam in warehouses in Birmingham, England, and created a smooth system for the distribution of mail to the European Theater’s troops. General George Patton credited the Postal Battalion for providing this vital boost to troop morale.

Members of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion take part in a parade ceremony in honor of Joan d'Arc at the marketplace where she was burned at the stake.jpg
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My aunt, Luise Higgins Jeter didn’t serve overseas in WAC, but she did serve stateside. She remained proud of her military service. She was thrilled to visit the Women In Service To America Memorial in D.C. and her name is included on the registry of those who served.

Luise Higgins Jeter (1918 – 2007) Veteran of World War II
Pvt. Luise Higgins Jeter

Explore Breena Clarke’s books at Breena Clarke.com

Read “FAT AND GRINNING”, a weekly serial novel at: https://amzn.to/3qLwGky. FOLLOW so you don’t miss an episode.

Fat and Grinning: a novel in weekly episodes

“Why did I love him so? Why still? Why, at a time when I was vulnerable, did I cling to his silly advice songs? It made no sense then. It makes less now. Why do I love him? Who cares. I just do,” says Gardenia Meadows, the biggest, the oldest, the longest, the staunchest, the most devoted fan in all of fandom. She loves Fats Waller and refuses to apologize.

circa 1935: American jazz musician Fats Waller (1904-1943) smiles in front of a CBS radio microphone. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

When Eleanor Bumpers, an old, arthritic Black woman is killed by police in Bronx, New York , Gardenia Meadows falls into a funk and turns to a familiar friend, the legendary Sultan of Silliness and Master of the Stride Piano, Fats Waller. How did this friendship get started? Are they just friends? What is the connection between Gardenia and Fats and Bumpers?

Read FAT AND GRINNING by Breena Clarke in weekly episodes https://amzn.to/3qLwGky

New episodes on Wednesday. Follow so you don’t miss a thing in this mash-up of stereotypes and stories and music and personal history.

Visiit my website: http://www.BreenaClarke.com

“One never knows, do one.” – Fats Waller

Experience the music of Thomas “Fats” Waller https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1mh7wDfNAGjlzRdMlPC5JS

Disclaimer: Fats’ music is not for everybody. He built his short, but brilliantly prolific career on laughing at himself before anybody else could. Some of his lyrics and shenanigans are cringe-worthy. He was a musical genius nevertheless.

https://amzn.to/3fHKdTO Read THERE’S A BODY IIN MY LOBBY by Esther Cohen and meet the indomitable Clara Israel. 92 or 93? Who knows? She’s using her years of wisdom and her unerring instincts about human behavior to solve a mysterious murder in her NYC apartment building. Esther Cohen returns with her hilarious nonagenarian gumshoe in weekly episodes appearing each Wednesday. Don’t miss the latest.

Check out more Esther Cohen at : http://www.esthercohen.com

Dreams Crushed

Habari Gani?

The fourth night of Kwanzaa is Ujamaa, cooperative economics. Let’s take the opportunity to recognize the struggles of Black Entrepreneurs and support their businesses, support all local businesses when possible.

In 1890, a group of migrants fleeing the hostile South settled an all-black town called Langston, 80 miles west of Tulsa. Oklahoma wasn’t yet a state, and its racial dynamics weren’t set in stone. The architect of the settlement, Edwin McCabe, had a vision of Oklahoma as the black promised land. He sent recruiters to the South, preaching racial pride and self-sufficiency. At least 29 black separatist towns were established in Oklahoma during the late 19th century. for more information about the Tulsa Massacre

Following World War I, Tulsa, Oklahoma boasted one of the most affluent African American communities in the country, known as the Greenwood District. This thriving business district and surrounding residential area were referred to as “Black Wall Street.” In 1921, a series of events nearly destroyed the entire Greenwood area.

In the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, Black Tulsa was looted and burned by white rioters. Individuals used private planes to deliver turpentine bombs onto homes in Tulsa’s black neighborhood. The governor declared martial law, and National Guard troops arrived in Tulsa. Guardsmen assisted firefighters in putting out fires, took imprisoned blacks out of the hands of vigilantes, and imprisoned all black Tulsans not already interned. Over 6,000 people were held at the Convention Hall and the Fairgrounds, some for as long as eight days.

Twenty-four hours after the violence erupted, it ceased. In the wake of the violence, 35 city blocks lay in charred ruins, over 800 people were treated for injuries, and contemporary reports of deaths began at 36. In 2001, the Tulsa Race Riot Commission released a report indicating that historians now believe close to 300 people died in the riot. A long lost manuscript by Oklahoma lawyer, B.C. Franklin, father of famed African-American historian John Hope Franklin (1915-2009), describes the attack by hundreds of whites on the Greenwood neighborhood. It is a handwritten, breathtaking account of the events. Tulsa Massacre – Smithsonian Magazine 

 visit the website of the Tulsa Historical Society for more information: Tulsa Historical Societyfor the full story, check out this book:

To purchase the books by Breena Clarke

River, Cross My Heartan Oprah book club selection and a classic of African American fiction is now available for your e-reader.

“The acclaimed bestseller–a selection of Oprah’s Book Club–that brings vividly to life the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, circa 1925, a community reeling from a young girl’s tragic death.” Amazon.com

River, Cross My Heart, kindle edition

Find a local bookstore on Indiebound.org

Discover books by African American authors at African American Literature Book Club

Join a book club at  Well Read Black Girl

visit the Hobart Book Village in person or online

more information at BreenaClarke.com

Oppression on My Table Redux

My diet depends in large measure on fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve got to govern my fruits though, choosing to eat the fruit and eschew the juice. So, my eyes light up at the array at the local supermarket or the corner fruit stand. But because I’m pondering the fruit I eat,  I wonder at the nearly invisible chain of custody of my apple or banana or orange. I’m no agricultural xenophobe. I don’t want to ban fruit or vegetables from anywhere. But I recognize the costs some people pay to get these scrubbed and stunning fruits to my table.  Organic? Non-organic? Local? Schmocal? Global?

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Habari Gani?

Ujima. Collective work and economic responsibility.  Let’s take this opportunity on the third night of Kwanzaa to reflect on the world’s millions of agricultural workers who labor in oppressive conditions on factory farms and endure the effects of virulent pesticides to provide the fruits and veggies for our tables . . . and unfortunately, in our trash cans.

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“One toxic insecticide widely used in banana production is chlorpyrifos, a potent neurotoxicant member of the organophosphate insecticide family. Chlorpyrifos can harm workers, communities and the environment but is not generally detected on peeled bananas. Children are especially sensitive to chlorpyrifos toxicity. The chemical can disrupt brain development and impair cognitive functions, measured by intelligence tests, when the child is exposed during pregnancy and early childhood (Rauh 2011). Costa Rican researchers found that children living near banana fields where pesticides were used had much higher concentrations of chlorpyrifos in their bodies than children living where only 12 percent of farmers reported using pesticides.” —–Sonya Lunder, EWG.org

They’re nature’s portable snack. You can take them up a mountain, to the beach, on thew subway or bus without breaking your diet. But do you need to buy only organic bananas?  Why buy organic bananas?

for more on bananas and pesticides, Bananas are pesticide intensive

for more on worker safety:

U.N launches Banana Worker Safety handbook

Celebrate Kwanzaa by trying to find a way to eat responsibly and not waste. Check out a diabetes-friendly recipe for banana bread to rescue overripe fruit. You’ll have to buy a bunch and patiently await the ripening because they MUST be really ripe for this recipe.

banana-bread

Use 1&1/2 cups of whole wheat flour with 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

Use an artificial sweetener blend like Truvia baking blend instead of sugar

Use 1/2 cup of canola oil for the butter

Add some chopped walnuts

  1. reheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together canola oil and sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf, comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

I LOVE BANANAS. I NEED BANANAS.

Warmth of Other Suns

The brilliantly comprehensive, Pulitzer-Prize winning book, “The Warmth Of Other Suns”: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson details the crushing experiences of southern agricultural workers in the 20th century.  After reading this book, I began to think that saying a prayer before eating is not a bad thing.

A prayer/a hymn for the picker and the picker’s children. A prayer for the oyster-shucker and the oyster-shuckers’ children, a prayer for the cane cutter and the cane cutters’ children. An orison for the banana worker and the banana worker’s children. A prayer for all those who harvest and box and pack our meals. All of us are comrades in global commerce.

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Kwanza     IMG_3709

for more on Breena Clarke’s books, go to www.BreenaClarke.com

River, Cross My Heart, an Oprah book club selection and a classic of African American fiction is now available for your e-reader.

“The acclaimed bestseller–a selection of Oprah’s Book Club–that brings vividly to life the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, circa 1925, a community reeling from a young girl’s tragic death.”  Amazon.com

River, Cross My Heart, kindle edition

Self-Determination

Habari Gani?  Kujichagulia (self-determination) to be responsible for the community and to speak for oneself.

Reader on the shelf

Self-determination is, like food, water, and shelter, a human right. Tragically, many of our most vulnerable young people, especially young girls are unable to determine the course of their lives because they are subjected to sexual exploitation by gangs of predators who traffic them, i.e. sell them to others as sexual slaves.  The problem is thought to be particularly acute at this time of year as the Super Bowl approaches, but statistics on trafficking do not support a jump in activities. Human trafficking is a serious, year-round industry. January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, which is why the issue is getting more attention now than at other times of the year. And, with the Super Bowl drawing large crowds to the host city, outreach groups and activists say they see an opportunity for public awareness initiatives.

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Cyntoia Brown-Long

Cyntoia Brown-Long, author, speaker and advocate for criminal-justice reform and victims of trafficking, writes in The Washington Post about her own experiences of trafficking and about the case of a young woman charged in the murder of the man who held her captive and sold her to other men for sex.

I was jailed for my trafficker’s death.

Brown-Long speaks about the justice system’s blindness to the peculiar, particular horror of sexual slavery. She speaks about the case of teen, Chrystal Kizer, who faces life in prison for killing her enslaver. Following the Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal earlier this year, activists in Wisconsin are calling for allowing for self-defense claim for Kizer. Advocates demand justice for Chrystul Kizer

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Chrystul Kizer shot and killed the pedophile who abused and imprisoned her and is charged with his murder

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Let’s celebrate Kwanzaa by being determined to recognize the needs of our communities and by being willing to stand for justice and dignity and against racism and sexual exploitation.  For more information about Kwanzaa, go toWhat is Kwanzaa

more information about Breena Clarke’s books at www.BreenaClarke.com

River, Cross My Heart, an Oprah book club selection and a classic of African American fiction is now available for your e-reader.

“The acclaimed bestseller–a selection of Oprah’s Book Club–that brings vividly to life the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC, circa 1925, a community reeling from a young girl’s tragic death.”  Amazon.com

River, Cross My Heart, kindle edition

Kwanzaa 2021

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Kwanzaa greeting: Habari Gani?

Today’s response: UMOJA, Unity.

I enjoy the opportunity to celebrate Kwanzaa, a harvest festival created in 1966 by Dr. Maulauna Ron Karenga to acknowledge African culture in the Americas, not as an angry alternative to Christmas, but as an opportunity to reflect before the incoming New Year. The frenzy of Christmas commerce has made celebrating that holiday a very noisy, frenetic tug of emotions about being there and getting there and wishing to be or get or re-get. If you’re ready to sweep up the wrapping paper and bring out the kinara, use these seven days of Kwanzaa as days for self-reflection and community.

Celebrate Kwanzaa 2021 December 26 – January 1

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There are seven principles of Kwanzaa called Nguzo Saba and each day is dedicated to one of these principles:

Umoja (unity) to maintain unity in the family and community

Kujichagulia (self-determination) to be responsible for the community and to speak for oneself.

Ujima (collective work and responsibility) to build and maintain a community.

Ujamaa (cooperative economics) to help build and maintain our own businesses.

Nia (purpose) to build and develop goals to benefit the people of the community.

Kuumba (creativity) to make the community more beautiful and beneficial for the future generation.

Imani (faith) to believe in our people, parents, teachers, and leaders.

more: What is Kwanzaa    

And in celebrating Kwanzaa, there is little need to stuff yourself with sugar. Consider this the time to explore lower sugar, lower carb, higher fiber, higher protein options for your diet.

The First Principle of Kwanza is Umoja, Unity. The past year of Pandemic and Political trauma has tested the idea of Unity in our nation. But I’ve made community with a wider array of people in my very diverse city, Jersey City, New Jersey. I’m concerned about health and fitness, “sugar” diabetes and communities of color. And I’ve reflected that the people of the African Diaspora are particularly, uniquely, and peculiarly connected to sugar and the trade in sugar and slaves and rum and the wealth it created.
Traingle trade
The Triangle trade in American History is a pattern of colonial commerce in which people were purchased on the African Gold Coast with New England rum, then the enslaved were traded in the West Indies for SUGAR or molasses, which was brought back to New England to be manufactured into rum.  for a fuller of the Atlantic Slave Trade
 The over-consumption of sugar has been implicated in the occurrence of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and tooth decay. And diabetes is associated with an increased risk for a number of serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, and CERTAIN POPULATIONS ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED.  Because good diabetes diagnosis and management can be expensive for uninsured or under-insured people, many are unaware they have diabetes until they develop one of its complications. African-Americans are significantly more likely to suffer from diabetes-related blindness, kidney disease, and amputations.
— from American Diabetes Association website. Living With Diabetes
Celebrate Kwanzaa 2021. Light a candle and reflect on UNITY. UMOJA Let’s think about the historical impact of sugar . . . or NOT. Let’s celebrate our triumph over that moment and resolve to push back against King Sugar. Make this cranberry cake/pie that I adapted for my diabetes-friendly diet. It satisfies my sweet craving and gives me the wonderful benefits of cranberries cranberry 411  and the usefulness and flavor of walnuts and some whole grain.

cranberries

Cranberry Pie/Cake
1 cup of whole wheat flour & 1 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 cup of Truvia baking blend – a combination of the stevia leaf and a small percentage of granulated sugar.
 A dash of salt
2 cups of fresh cranberries (frozen is great, but not canned/jellied)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts – a healthy fat
1/2 cup of canola oil or oil of your choice
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of orange zest and 2 tablespoons of orange juice.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with a cooking spray of your choice. Combine flour, sweetener, and salt, add cranberries and walnuts and stir to coat. Stir in the oil, eggs, and orange juice and zest. (zest orange by grating the peel) Mix and spread into pie pan. The mixture will be thick-ish. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

for information about Breena Clarke’s books, go to www.BreenaClarke.com.  

Finding Alfred Clarke

Alfred and Virginia Clarke images on cufflinks and brooch

I can say for certain now that I know the identity of three of my ancestors who endured enslavement and were freed under the District of Columbia’s Compensated Emancipation Act. Now I know for sure. I’ve recently learned a few precious facts about Alfred Clarke, my ancestor, his mother Elizabeth “Lizzie” Clarke and his grandmother Mary Ann Lingon.

I’m a fiction writer, a novelist. I write historically based novels about African Americans in the mid-Atlantic region. I’ve written two novels set in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington—River, Cross My Heart, an Oprah Book Club selection, and Stand the Storm, set in Washington during the Civil War era, a volatile, unprecedented time for African Americans, enslaved and free. Guided by the first-person accounts of enslaved people, filling in the gaps of dissembling and obfuscation, and ferreting out obscure historical facts, I’ve created my fictional characters.

Sometimes I feel like I have a score to settle with the historical record, an injury to repair. When I discovered facts about Alfred Clarke, I got very excited and came to a pause to consider that there was more to know about one of my direct ancestors. What does a fiction writer do when a historically true family story comes to light? How must she feel, I ask? I write historical fiction primarily from an urge to re-tell the past, to rehabilitate the skimpy, fractured, fragmented narratives of the people of the Americas, the so-called New World. Much of the national narrative of the United States is based on limited facts, racially motivated lies, and the visceral belief that all people are NOT created equally.

I’ve written about the unique path to freedom that the Compensated Emancipation Act of April 1862 opened for people enslaved in Washington, D.C. in Stand the Storm. I recently discovered specific information about my Clarke great-grandfather in a webinar produced by a writer and genealogist, Yvette LaGonterie, whose contributions to the historical record and to the Georgetown African American Historic Landmark Project are invaluable. She’s done research on Alfred Clarke because of her relationship to a branch of my father’s family. Both of my parents grew up in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., an area that had a vibrant African American settlement that included a number of historic Black churches. My father’s family was traced to Alfred and his childhood enslavement at the Georgetown Hotel, which also served as a tavern.

Thinking about the 19th century, the period in which the enslavement of African people is legal in this country is a hard moment to inhabit. I am fascinated to learn that my relative was an actual participant in the Compensated Emancipation Act, enacted by Abraham Lincoln to soften the financial loss of emancipation for slave owners who freed slaves in the nation’s capital. The plan was that the federal government would pay slave owners who made application.

The act created a free zone sandwiched between Maryland and Virginia, two large slave states. The administrative documents of the transactions created a unique cache of records, stored at the National Archives, that opened a window into the lives of the enslaved. In these records, the ages, occupations, familial relationships, and physical characteristics of the formerly enslaved are set down. This Act was a tiny, tenuous slice of freedom, specific to the District of Columbia, that emancipated my ancestors and roughly three thousand other people.

Alfred was ten years old when he gained freedom in 1862. He worked as a stevedore, as well as, at a variety of other jobs. He married Jenny Cole, who was born free, at the segregated Holy Trinity Catholic Church. The couple had ten children, including my grandfather, James Sheridan Clarke, Sr. Decades later, my father, James Sheridan Clarke, Jr. became the first and foremost altar boy for the Epiphany Catholic Church, built by the African American congregation in Georgetown who did not wish to continue worshiping at segregated Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

What do I understand now about Alfred Clarke and my other ancestors? Not too much yet. I know that they remained together in enslavement and freedom, their names appearing on census records. Mary Ann Lingon was enslaved with another woman named Mary; both girls were known to have been sold to Eleanor R. Lang at the age of fourteen in the 1830’s. Lang was a widow and the owner of the Georgetown Hotel. I might otherwise admire a woman who’d managed to operate an establishment of this size had she not accomplished this with enslaved labor. Mary Ann Lingon was a grandmother when she got her freedom; she had come from a very old settlement in Prince Georges County, Maryland called Piscataway and had been sold to Lang by William Marbury. Mary and Mary Ann remained as close as sisters throughout their adulthood.

As sad as the facts are, I was enormously satisfied to learn about Alfred Clarke and pleased that a significant historical event I’d written about in my novel, Stand the Storm, had worked to emancipate my ancestor. I’ve been scratching around in this yard for a while in my fiction. It is gratifying to feel that, through fiction, I told a truth about people in my family though I didn’t know it. The discovery of these three Clarkes is a validation of my process. The bits of Alfred’s life that have emerged are threads I can take up and spin into a narrative. I’ve looked at photos and tried to become haunted by the folks staring back. I look long at them and try to absorb their thoughts to embellish my fiction. Now when I look at Alfred, I think I recognize a Clarke soul. 

I may never write a straight family history. Without letters or diaries, I’m not likely to learn much more than names, places, and occupations about my biological family. Yet, they inspire me. Knowing about some of the things they did, their answers on census records tells me about their family circle, what work they did and their aspirations, their perseverance, their thrift and their mindfulness of their children’s future. I like the way fiction can put the historical event into the middle of an ordinary person’s life and illuminate the two simultaneously.

The D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862 changed the lives of a few thousand people and its effect rippled much further afield. I enjoy imagining what those effects may have been. Oh, but these people, newly discovered and tantalizingly within reach, are my muses now. Their scant facts are my nourishment. 

Most recently, a photograph of Alfred Clarke has been installed permanently in The City Tavern, a private club that occupies this oldest historic building in Washington, D.C. Alfred Clarke and his relatives are the only persons known to have lived and worked in this building. The City Tavern is on the National Register of Historic Places.

a set of cufflinks and a brooch contains the images of Alfred Delaney Clarke and Virginia Cole Clarke
Breena Clarke delivering the keynote address at the installation of the Alfred Clarke photograph.
This is my fictional account of the ways the Compensated Emancipation Act affected individuals lives.

An earlier version of this essay was published in “I’m Speaking Now: Black Women Share Their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage and Hope, edited by Breena Clarke and Amy Newmark.

New and Now

Announcing

A NEW workshop with Breena Clarke: 

How They Must Have Felt: developing an emotional landscape in historical fiction. 

This workshop created and led by Breena Clarke is one of six being offered as part of the Hobart Festival of Women Writers’ Fall Workshop Series. We’re entering our ninth year of platforming the work of women writers across all genres. Since 2013, we’ve held a three-day Festival of readings, workshops, panels and performances in Hobart, New York, the Reading Capitol of New York State. The pandemic has caused us to suspend the in-person Festival again this year. We’ve maintained presence for women writers, however. In September 2020, though we were unable to come together in person, we created several virtual readings https://bit.ly/3rA4xLT featuring videos made by Participating Writers. 

Beginning in September 2021, we are offering six, four-week zoom workshops. Each session will be 90 minutes. These workshops are priced at a very friendly fee and are under the leadership of six distinguished professional writers: Bertha Rogers, Breena Clarke, Mercy Tullis-Bukari, Elena Schwolsky, Stephanie Nikolopoulos, and Mary Johnson. 

Breena Clarke, co-founder and co-organizer of The Hobart Festival, is the author of three historical novels. Join her for How They Must Have Felt: developing an emotional landscape in historical fiction, to explore how you can fill the gaps in the mainstream narrative to richly build the interior lives of your characters. 

Have you begun a novel? Have you come too far to turn back, but feel you’re stuck in a slurry of characters and events and ideas and points of view and styles and genres? Then, you confront the skimpy historical record for people like your protagonist. How do you engage the rich interior lives you are looking for? 

Authors often face empty spaces when researching the past for the voices of people outside of the racial, social, and economic mainstream of American history. – Breena Clarke

Faced with the incomplete historical record of people of color, fiction writers must speculate about the past, filling in the interior lives of people left out of mainstream narratives. The process of constructing these lives requires reimagining geography, history, sociology, etymology and popular culture. Over the course of four consecutive weeks in September – 9/11,9/18, 9/25 & 10/2 –  Breena Clarke will help you explore the techniques fiction writers can use to create voices of the interior lives of the past. Participants will discover practical strategies to get started laying out an emotional landscape for their fiction.  

As a special bonus, Breena Clarke will read and critique your first 50 pages. Are you off to a great beginning for your novel or are you confused about where to start? All participants in this workshop may submit a manuscript (limit 50 pages) at the completion of the workshop and each will receive a comprehensive critique of their work. 

Though writing a novel is often compared to a long-distance run, it can also be compared to a 50-yard dash. There is value to both approaches. Putting your head down and pushing forward quickly with all you’ve got can energize your project. Come join me and we’ll see how far we can take your novel. Make a commitment to yourself and the novel inside you. Tell your story.

We hope you’ll support Hobart Festival of Women Writers by registering for a workshop with one (or two or all six) of our participating writers. This is a great way to help us maintain a platform for women writers and a way for you to develop your own creative work. 

We’re pulling through and it is because of you. 

Please note: All workshops are open to every lover of books and language regardless of gender. 

This workshop is offered as part of the Fall Workshop Series for Hobart Festival of Women Writers. Information at www.hobartfestivalofwomenwriters.com

https://www.hfwwnow.com/blog/bhqrfagi734gcvabdadjj6ifhoivl3 Read “An Accumulation of Grievances,” Breena Clarke’s most recent work in NOW, the online journal of the Hobart Festival of Women Writers. NOW is an online platform for the most important and scintillating work in essay, fiction and poetry by Participating Writers of Hobart Festival of Women Writers. Go to http://www.hfwwnow.com

Read the most recent book in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series I’M SPEAKING NOW: BLACK WOMEN SHARE THEIR TRUTH IN 101 STORIES OF LOVE, COURAGE AND HOPE, edited by Breena Clarke and Amy Newmark with an introduction and two personal essays by Breena Clarke. This book includes 101 personal narratives of the lives of Black women living today. https://bit.ly/3fVUzPx.

Commemoration of Devastation/ Rebirth of Hope

June 1. 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the most devastating racial conflict in American History.

Viola Fletcher, 107, one of the last living survivors of the Tulsa Race Massacre testified before Congress, May 2021

https://www.npr.org/2021/05/19/998225207/survivors-of-1921-tulsa-race-massacre-share-eyewitness-accounts

In 1890, a group of migrants fleeing the hostile South settled an all-black town called Langston, 80 miles west of Tulsa. Oklahoma wasn’t yet a state, and its racial dynamics weren’t set in stone. The architect of the settlement, Edwin McCabe, had a vision of Oklahoma as the black promised land. He sent recruiters to the South, preaching racial pride and self-sufficiency. At least 29 black separatist towns were established in Oklahoma during the late 19th century. for more information about the Tulsa Massacre

Following World War I, Tulsa, Oklahoma boasted one of the most affluent African American communities in the country, known as the Greenwood District. This thriving business district and surrounding residential area were referred to as “Black Wall Street.” In 1921, a series of events nearly destroyed the entire Greenwood area.

In the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, Black Tulsa was looted and burned by white rioters. Individuals used private planes to deliver turpentine bombs onto homes in Tulsa’s black neighborhood. The governor declared martial law, and National Guard troops arrived in Tulsa. Guardsmen assisted firefighters in putting out fires, took imprisoned blacks out of the hands of vigilantes, and imprisoned all black Tulsans not already interned. Over 6,000 people were held at the Convention Hall and the Fairgrounds, some for as long as eight days.

Twenty-four hours after the violence erupted, it ceased. In the wake of the violence, 35 city blocks lay in charred ruins, over 800 people were treated for injuries, and contemporary reports of deaths began at 36. In 2001, the Tulsa Race Riot Commission released a report indicating that historians now believe close to 300 people died in the riot. A long lost manuscript by Oklahoma lawyer, B.C. Franklin, father of famed African-American historian John Hope Franklin (1915-2009), describes the attack by hundreds of whites on the Greenwood neighborhood. It is a handwritten, breathtaking account of the events. Tulsa Massacre – Smithsonian Magazine 

 visit the website of the Tulsa Historical Society for more information: Tulsa Historical Society

Announcing a new book from Chicken Soup for The Soul 

I’m Speaking Now: Black Women Share Their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage and HopeThis anthology, co-authored by Breena Clarke and Amy Newmark contains 101 compelling, honest stories and a dozen poems, from over 100 Black women. The anthology also includes two stories by Breena Clarke. The stories are timely, relevant, and very much reflect today’s reality for our community. Paired with quotes from contemporary and historical Black women, the essays are arranged in eleven chapters, each headed by a stunning poem and each of these personal essays has been edited with respect for the writers and their individual truths.

From the introduction by Breena Clarke:

The stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul: I’m Speaking Now Black Women Share Their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage and Hope are straightforward accounts of daily lives. Some are bursts of bright recollection of events or incidents from the past that have stamped the authors’ lives. Some of the stories are sweet, tender remembrances, evoking pictures of beloved forebears who give us the gritty lessons for survival. Some of the narratives are of dreams and goals the authors set for themselves and their children juxtaposed with fears and trepidation. Some of these stories are raw, unsettling accounts of trauma. Some are funny, and some are not. 

AVAILABLE EVERYWHERE JUNE 1, 2021

For information about this book go to https://www.chickensoup.com/book/235516/im-speaking-now

and view the trailer https://youtu.be/mLhKVarkIe4

Books by Breena Clarke

River, Cross My Heartan Oprah book club selection and a classic of African American fiction is now available for your e-reader.

“The acclaimed bestseller–a selection of Oprah’s Book Club–that brings vividly to life the Georgetown

Stand The Storm online discussion

Join Breena Clarke for a discussion of her novel, Stand The Storm on Saturday March 13th at 2:00pm EST. This event is the inaugural event of The Book Canopy, a place to read, enjoy and discuss books by women authors. 

In Stand The Storm, I wanted to accomplish a narrative that created a fuller picture of urban enslavement in Washington, D.C. at mid-nineteenth-century. I wrote also about the Compensated Emancipation Act enacted by Abraham Lincoln that freed enslaved persons residing in Washington, D.C., on April 16, 1862, nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation. Now, much to my surprise, I’ve learned facts about my direct ancestor who gained his freedom under this edict along with his mother and grandmother. I’m delighted to learn that an event I’d written about in my fiction had a true historical impact on my family. On Saturday, March 13th, I will be joined by arts facilitator, Chesray Dolpha to discuss Stand The Storm and the lives of enslaved people in our nation’s capital in the Civil War era.

View a video reading recorded by the author and enter the world of The Coats Family, a self-emancipated, African American family in mid-nineteenth century Washington, D.C. who survive and thrive as tailors and quilters.

https://youtu.be/p8ZJw1Rk_kY

REGISTER FOR THE DISCUSSION at https://www.thebookcanopy.org. And register for the Book Canopy newsletter to receive information about the upcoming book discussions.

for more information about Breena Clarke’s books, go to http://www.BreenaClarke.com