Macy’s Celebrates Black History Month and Gordon Parks

r2012x51_macys_celebrates_02I recently had the honor of attending a Black History Month celebration at Macy’s in San Francisco, CA. I had heard about other events held at Macy’s and I was excited to finally be attending one, especially this one! If you are not familiar with Mr. Gordon Parks, here’s a biography on him that I found on The Gordon Parks Foundation website.

8508166604_9429002d9bAbout Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks was one of the seminal figures of twentieth century photography. A humanitarian with a deep commitment to social justice, he left behind a body of work that documents many of the most important aspects of American culture from the early 1940s up until his death in 2006, with a focus on race relations, poverty, Civil Rights, and urban life. In addition, Parks was also a celebrated composer, author, and filmmaker who interacted with many of the most prominent people of his era—from politicians and artists to celebrities and athletes.

Born into poverty and segregation in Kansas in 1912, Parks was drawn to photography as a young man when he saw images of migrant workers published in a magazine. After buying a camera at a pawnshop, he taught himself how to use it and despite his lack of professional training, he found employment with the Farm Security Administration (F.S.A.), which was then chronicling the nation’s social conditions. Parks quickly developed a style that would make him one of the most celebrated photographers of his age, allowing him to break the color line in professional photography while creating remarkably expressive images that consistently explored the social and economic impact of racism.

When the F.S.A. closed in 1943, Parks became a freelance photographer, balancing work for fashion magazines with his passion for documenting humanitarian issues. His 1948 photo essay on the life of a Harlem gang leader won him widespread acclaim and a position as the first African American staff photographer and writer for Life Magazine, then by far the most prominent photojournalist publication in the world. Parks would remain at Life Magazine for two decades, chronicling subjects related to racism and poverty, as well as taking memorable pictures of celebrities and politicians (including Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., and Stokely Carmichael). His most famous images, such as Emerging Man, 1952, and American Gothic, 1942, capture the essence of activism and humanitarianism in mid-twentieth century America and have become iconic images, defining their era for later generations. They also rallied support for the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement, for which Parks himself was a tireless advocate as well as a documentarian.

Parks spent much of the last three decades of his life expanding his style, conducting experiments with color photography. He continued working up until his death in 2006, winning numerous awards, including the National Medal of Arts in 1988, and over fifty honorary doctorates. He was also a noted composer and author, and in 1969, became the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film based on his bestselling novel The Learning Tree. This was followed in 1971 by the hugely successful motion picture Shaft. The core of his accomplishment, however, remains his photography the scope, quality, and enduring national significance of which is reflected throughout the Collection. According to Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Center at Harvard University, “Gordon Parks is the most important black photographer in the history of photojournalism. Long after the events that he photographed have been forgotten, his images will remain with us, testaments to the genius of his art, transcending time, place and subject matter.”

The Gordon Parks Foundation has more than 6,000 pieces of Mr. Park’s works. They are kept at their facility in NY. A few of his pieces were on display at Macy’s, for everyone to see.

SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSCMacy’s really knows how to put together an event, I was very impressed with the whole set-up. They had a portion of the third floor roped off for the function. There was a Jazz band playing, and they were serving wine from Esterlina Vineyards, one of only 12 black-owned wineries in the U.S. It was a full house, with many people in attendance. It was good to see so many people interested in learning more about Gordon Parks and coming together to celebrate his legacy. (I was so thankful for my front row seat!)SONY DSC

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Former San Francisco Mayor, Willie Brown, was also in attendance &  he was a real crowd favorite! SONY DSC

The highlight of the evening, was when actor/director, author,  Eriq La Salle and actress/author, comedian, Kim Coles, hit the stage for a panel discussion. I have followed Mr. La Salle’s career since his portrayal of Mr. Soul Glow himself, in the 1988 hit, Coming to America, with Eddie Murphy!  Kim Coles has been on my radar since her In Living Color days! It was great to be able to see them in person and hear what they had to say about Gordon Parks and how he had influenced their careers. In fact, he continues to impact their career decisions, even today.SONY DSC
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One of my favorite quotes of the evening, was from Eriq La Salle. He was speaking about Mr. Parks and he said, “Gordon Parks didn’t ask permission to do things, he went out and did it!” Gordon Parks was a trailblazer, he thought outside the box. When he did not like how blacks were being portrayed in the movies, he went out and made the movie Shaft. Who hasn’t heard of Shaft? (He’s a mean mother, shut yo mouth!)

Mr. La Salle went on to share that he has written a book, Laws of Depravity, which sounds like a real thriller! Can’t wait to see it up on the big screen! Kim Coles will be starring in her own, one woman show, entitled: Oh, But Wait, There’s More! Be sure to support both of these talented professionals. They are following in Gordon Parks footsteps and thinking outside the box. As a freelance writer/photographer, I really admire them for what they are doing.

I was in good company while at this event, I met up with Mama Harris, who blogs at “From The Kitchen Of Mama Harris“, and Sharelle D. Lowery, your “Classy Black Girl“,  (posing with Mr. La Salle.)BDrNiUnCUAESo77.jpg-largeSONY DSC After the discussion ended, we were treated to hors d’oeuvres and some folks even had their make-up retouched before heading out to the after-party. (I must confess, those macaroons were delicious! Oh my goodness!)SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCI would like to commend Macy’s for hosting such an upscale event. Everything ran smoothly and the panel discussion was very informative. I left there knowing more about Gordon Parks than I did when I arrived, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Kudos Macy’s!

 

**Disclosure: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere provided me with compensation for this post about Macy’s Black History Month.  However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.**

Shot@Life Champions Summit-Mommy Powers Goes to Capitol Hill!

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One week ago today, I returned from a 3-day conference in Washington, DC. I was there with the Shot@Life organization, to learn more about advocating for a cause that I care deeply about. Shot@Life provides life-saving vaccines to children in developing nations, the program is run by the United Nations Foundation. Did you know that 1 in 5 children around the world does not have access to the vaccines they need to survive?! Shot@Life is working hard to change that dismal fact.

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There were over 100 Shot@Life Champions in DC for training, and I was honored to be one of them. (There were 13 of us from CA, that’s us in the pic below!) We came from all over the U.S., with one goal in mind-to save the lives of innocent children! It has taken me a whole week to digest everything I learned in DC, everything I heard, the stories others shared with us. Like the stories one of my fellow CA delegates, Dr. Tanya Arora, relayed while we speaking to our state representatives on Capitol Hill. Dr. Arora recently spent 6 months in Africa, working. She told us of the heartache of watching children die from vaccine-preventable diseases. Every day, every week-for 6 months; she had to witness kids dying in their mother’s arms. They were dying from diseases like polio, malaria, and rotavirus. Every time she told the story- my eyes filled with tears. I cannot imagine what it must have been like, for her, as a doctor, to see kids dying and not being able to do anything to help them. My heart also ached for the parents of the children, for they too, were helpless.

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We are so lucky to live in the US, where vaccines are readily available to us. With a simple phone call to our child’s pediatrician, we can schedule an appointment for our children to be immunized. Such isn’t the case in developing countries. Mother’s walk miles, sometimes up to 50 miles, in order to get to a clinic and have their child vaccinated. Once they arrive at the clinic, they wait hours in the blistering sun. I was there in DC for those mothers- I was their voice on Capitol Hill! I was also there for myself, and my family. For my uncle, who contracted Polio as a child-and for the maternal grandmother I never got to meet; she passed away when my mother was just 5 years old, from Tuberculosis… they were both heavy on my mind. In the pic below, we are in Senator Barbara Boxer’s office, waiting our turn to speak with staff.

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If you had told me a year ago, that I would be in Washington, DC, speaking to members of Congress-I would have laughed and asked what you’d been smoking! But knowing that every 20 seconds, a child in a developing nation dies from a vaccine-preventable disease, was enough to get me on Capitol Hill! Our representatives need to know that someone cares about children in other countries, that those kids matter, that every child matters! Shot@Life advocates met with over 100 congressional offices while we were in DC. Our CA group met with the offices of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congresswoman Barbara Lee & Congressman Henry A. Waxman. Had I ever done anything like this before?! No, I hadn’t. Was I nervous? You betcha! But what I kept telling myself over and over was this: If the tables were turned, if it were me in that developing nation, with no access to vaccines… would I want help from others?! The answer? You know it!! Of course I would! I would want & welcome as much help as possible.

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What if it were you, or your child? Wouldn’t you want someone you had never met to speak up for you? Wouldn’t you want others to care? I think we all would. We, as parents, would do anything for our children. That’s universal. The U.S. does not hold the patent on caring for children- mothers everywhere love their kids and want what’s best for them. I know I have my work cut out for me as a Shot@Life Champion. I need to get the word out about the importance of global vaccines. I need to think of ways to fundraise and help raise money for Shot@Life, so they can continue doing the wonderful work they are doing immunizing kids. I need to push Congress to continue providing foreign aid funding for programs like this. Did you know foreign aid funding is less than 1% of the total federal budget? That’s it! We are so close to eradicating polio worldwide, there are just three countries remaining with active polio cases- Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Polio is 99% eradicated, we just need those last three countries and we can say goodbye to polio forever! It’s going to be a lot of hard work- but I’m not alone, I’ve got every other Shot@Life Champion out there helping me out!

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Do you want to join me? Would you like to make a real difference in the world? You can sign up to be a Shot@Life Champion here! I would love the help! Be expecting lots more posts about Shot@Life- after all, I’ve got work to do!

 

 

Photo credit: Last photo taken by Daniel Cima/UN Foundation. Thank you to my Shot@Life Mentor, Tracey Clark…my CA crew,  and to the entire Shot@Life team! We can do this!

Washington, DC-Here I Come! Shot@Life 2013 Champions Summit!!

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When I started this blog, a little less than two years ago- I did so with the intention of helping women. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to accomplish that; I just knew that I needed to. I believed there was a reason why I’d experienced certain things in my life, I believed that if I shared those experiences with others, that someone-somewhere, might be find my posts helpful.

Fast forward to today. I am preparing to pack my suitcase and head off to Washington, DC. I will be attending the Shot@Life Champions Summit, as a 2013 Shot@Life Champion! “Shot@Life educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. A national call to action for this global cause, the campaign rallies the American public, members of Congress, and civil society partners around the fact that together, we can save a child’s life every 20 seconds by expanding access to vaccines. By encouraging Americans to learn about, advocate for, and donate vaccines, the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign will decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give children a shot at a healthy life.”

What better way to help women than by making sure their children receive the life-saving vaccines they need? Children in other countries are dying from diseases like Polio, Measles, and Malaria…diseases that we have vaccines for. These deaths can be prevented. When was the last time you, as a parent, worried about your child contracting Polio? I know I have never worried about that. We are so fortunate to live in the US., where vaccines are readily available. Shot@Life goes to where the children are-whether it be in India or Africa, wherever children need vaccines, Shot@Life is there. They believe every child deserves a shot at life! So do I.

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Did You Know?

1 in 5 children around the world does not have access to the vaccines they need to survive.

Around the world, a child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine.

The number of children dying every year from preventable diseases in developing countries is nearly equivalent to half the children entering kindergarten in the U.S.!

I am a Shot@life Champion, and it’s all because I started writing a blog… a little less than two years ago. A blog that I hoped would help women. Because of my blog, and the networking I have done since starting it; I will now be able to help women in a way I had never imagined. Women on the other side of the world! I know God is behind this, only He could orchestrate something so beautiful!

While in DC., I will learn the skills I need to be an effective Champion, hear from experts, meet fellow Champions from across the country, and meet with members of Congress on Capitol Hill. You can follow along with the Summit on Twitter at #globalvax.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t matter. You matter, we all matter! You are capable of doing great things! One person, can make a difference!

#TalesFromTheThrift Shopping for DC!

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Y’all know I’m frugal, right?! I love a good bargain, and cannot stand paying retail for anything…. I mean, I will if I have to, and I do-but I’d rather shop around for a good sale! One of the ways I save money is by shopping at thrift stores, (it’s also one of the ways I MAKE money, but that’s another post!) I have the Shot@Life Champions Summit coming up very soon and while I want to look nice for it, I really don’t want to break the bank! This past weekend, I paid a visit to my local thrift shop to see what I could find, and boy did I score!!

I’m a jeans gal, always in my jeans… well, I can’t wear jeans to the Summit; so I set out to find some nice dress slacks. Found ‘em! 2 pairs of blacks slacks, $4.99 each- in like new condition! Scratch that off the list. Next I needed to find a blazer or two… Found ‘em! I actually found about 7 or 8 of them! lol! Got a Talbot’s blazer for $8.99… a Nordstrom’s blazer, Brand New with Tags- Never Worn, 100% pure silk!! (It’s in the video I made, coming up in a bit!) Scratch blazers off the list. Blouses, need a couple of really nice ones. Found ‘em! The one I like best is from Macy’s, Brand New with Tags-Never Worn! Fits me like it was tailor made for me…it’s in the video too!

I still need another top, and some cute shoes, but I’m quite impressed by what I was able to find at the thrift shop! I hop you enjoy my video, I’m new at making them…next time I won’t be so nervous! Be expecting more #TalesFromtheThrift posts from me in the future! Thanks to Xenia, from Raised By Culture, for allowing me to join her #TalesFromtheThrift crew!

Do you shop at thrift stores? If so, whats your best find so far?

 

For the Love of Life Giveaway! #4LoveOfLife

I am very happy & honored to be participating in this special giveaway, just in time for Valentine’s Day! The Orphaned Earring is run by a sweet blogger friend of mine named Denisse, she uses all the money she makes selling her bracelets to help children in orphanages! This past Christmas, she loaded up her car with items she bought for the children and drove down to Mexico to play Santa to all the kids. Some of us bloggers contributed items to help her out. I was overjoyed to be able to help her -help others.

The Orphaned Earring is a charity that collects orphaned earrings and unwanted fashion jewelry to make bracelets which are then sold at only $7 each. One-hundred percent of the funds are used to bring monthly arts & crafts as well as other festivities to children in four different orphanages in: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico and Colombia; allowing these precious children to artistically express themselves, let their imagination run wild and just be kids.

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As Denisse helped these orphanages, she found there are urgent needs in the surrounding communities. For that reason, she’s created the “For the Love of Life” campaign focusing on providing aid to families that are in desperate need of help. #4LoveForLife

The Situation: “For the Love of Life” will benefit an indigenous community near the Guatemalan orphanage. Since the forcible eviction of 13 indigenous communities in 2011, many families are desperately looking for shelter, food and jobs at the local coffee farms. If they are lucky, the men get hired but only for the short period of three months, after the three months they must leave with their families and a new wave of people get hired. Their daily payment is a ration of beans and tortillas but this ration is shared with his ENTIRE family and obviously this is NOT enough. The families are allowed to stay at the finca for the 3 months where they build shacks as homes, sleep on dirt floors, have no running water and build stone fire pits for heat.

Denisse discovered that the children living in these conditions are the most affected and suffering from malnutrition and ultimately dying of starvation. You see, when the families have to divide the food, a bigger portion goes to the father who needs the energy to work the land, the mother eats second largest portion since most of the time she is breastfeeding and needs to give nutrients to her babies. This means that the rest of their children end up with little to no food, suffering malnutrition and ultimately dying of starvation. Today,  “Guatemala is the only country in Central America labeled “serious.” Other countries in the region are categorized as only being ‘low’ or ‘moderate’ regarding hunger.”

The Solution: After some research and interviewing a few locals, The Orphaned Earring learned that a bit of oatmeal can be the difference between life and death for children and breast-feeding moms.

The Orphaned Earring is committing to bringing oatmeal to each new wave of families that come through the coffee farms. Depending on how much money we can raise every three months we would also like to provide powdered milk and sugar. But for the moment, we will focus on providing oatmeal and do it just FOR THE LOVE OF LIFE!  How can You help? You can help by donating your earrings to Denisse at:

The Orphaned Earring -P.O. Box 1565 -Hawthorne, CA 90251

  1. Buy Orphaned Earring bracelets that can be ordered through the blog
  2. Donate any monetary help through Paypal

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**Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post- I was NOT paid to write it. All opinions are my own & The Orphaned Earring Rocks!**

Tongue Crib?!

When our little one was born, he was always spitting out his binky at night…and I was always rushing to his side to give it back to him. Night after night, this played out. It seems every ten minutes his binky would fall out and he would start crying; I would get up out of bed and place it back in his mouth for him. You can imagine how happy I was when at about three months old, he started sucking his thumb!! I was overjoyed, no more dropping his binky at night…no more screaming for mommy to retrieve it! Bliss!

Fast forward a “few” years and little man is still sucking his thumb at night when he is sleepy. I must admit I think it looks cute, but what it’s doing to his teeth is not cute, not at all! We have tried just about everything to get him to stop. We remind him not to put it in his mouth whenever we see him doing it. We have put yucky substances on his entire thumb, didn’t help; he’d either go into the bathroom and wash it off, (smart kid) or fall asleep and suck on it anyways! At his last dental appointment, our dentist mentioned a “Tongue Crib.” Say what?!

I had never, ever heard of such a thing! What the heck is a tongue crib? Here’s a pic for your viewing pleasure:

DIGITAL IMAGE It looks like this. It is attached to his top teeth. He is not able to suck his thumb with it in. He’s tried, trust me! He has had it on for three days now, and it is already helping! The first night was really hard. He started crying and saying he needed to suck on his thumb, and it took a very long time for him to finally fall asleep. I have checked on him every night, all night long, and he has not had his thumb in his mouth at all while sleeping. Yay! I’m kinda wishing we’d put the tongue crib on earlier, but at least he’s got it on now.

He will probably have to wear it for about 6 months, though the doc said most kids usually stop sucking their thumb by the end of the first month. You need to make sure they totally break their thumb-sucking habit before removing it. I can remember a girl at my school that sucked her thumb well into the 5th grade! Kids would make fun of her and her teeth were really messed up as a result… not to mention her poor, flat, wrinkled thumb! I didn’t want my son to have to endure any of his classmates taunts, even though he only sucks his thumb at night and at home. His teeth would have continued to get worse and even if his friends never saw him suck his thumb, they’s see the damage it had caused.

His teeth might even straighten out! They aren’t that bad, but if they straighten back out, I’ll be one happy mama!

Does you little one suck his or her thumb?