Black History Fun Fact Friday: 8 Black Communities That Prospered

Originally Published: 9/28/2016

Updated: 1/22/2021


I love entrepreneurship. I talk about it. I live it. I stand behind it. I encourage all people, especially black people, to go on and do it if it is within their means to do so. If you’ve ever had a desire to own your own business, I say to go for it.

Here are some black-owned communities that prospered to get your blood pumping.

Free Blacks of Israel Hill

This community was the inspiration for the backstory of Renaissance: The Nora White StoryNora is a descendent of the free blacks of Israel Hill. It is how her father Gideon inherited five acres of land and why, although Nora’s not very impressed, they’re doing well financially compared to those around them. It was during my trip to New Mexico in 2016 while reading Melvin Patrick Ely’s book Israel on The Appomattox, winner of THE BANCROFT PRIZE, A New York Times Book Review, and Atlantic Monthly Editors’ Choice that the first inklings of the back story emerged.

The community was settled in Prince Edward County, Virginia, in 1810-1811 by ninety formerly enslaved persons. These slaves (now freedmen) received freedom and 350 acres from Judith Randolph under the will of her husband, Richard Randolph. These Israelites and other free Blacks worked as farmers, craftspeople, and Appomattox River boatmen. Some labored alongside whites for equal wages, and the family of early settler Hercules White bought and sold real estate in Farmville. Israel Hill remained a vibrant black community into the twentieth century.

Rosewood

The Rosewood community came back into people’s consciousness when John Singleton made a movie for it starring Ving Rhames in 1997. The quiet town prospered in 1870 when a railway depot was set up to transport the abundant red cedar, from which the town got its name, from Rosewood to a pencil factory in cedar key. By 1900 it was predominantly Black with a school, turpentine mill, baseball team, general store, and sugarcane mill. The community had two dozen plank two-story homes, some other small houses, and several small unoccupied plank structures.

Blackdom

There was much revelation during my New Mexico trip. During that time, I learned of Blackdom, another little-known Black community about 18 miles southwest of Roswell, New Mexico, and was founded by Frank and Ella Boyer. Walking 2,000 miles on foot from Georgia to New Mexico, Boyer left his wife and children behind to cultivate land in the West’s free territory before sending his family some three years later. At this time in history, Blacks had begun migrating from the south in significant numbers in a movement called “The Great Exodus” following the Homestead Act of 1862, particularly in Kansas. Henry was a wagoner in the American-Mexican war when he first set eyes on the New Mexico land. The Artesian Water sprang in abundance as more and more blacks were invited and nourished on the land. Blackdom had its own school and post office.

Mound Bayou, MS

The first all-black town in Mississippi, Mound Bayou was founded by two former slaves, Isaiah Montgomery and his cousin, Benjamin Green. In December of 1886, according to a Cleveland Mississippi article of July 1887, Montgomery and Green bought 840 acres of land from the Louisville-New Orleans & Texas Railroad for $7 an acre. That acreage would serve as the site of Mound Bayou.

The men were successful, reaching a population of 4,000 people (99.6 percent black) by 1907. The community had a train depot, a bank, a post office, numerous thriving industries, various stores and eateries, a newspaper, a telephone exchange, and, eventually, a hospital. Mound Bayou was a flourishing community.

Nicodemus Township in Graham County, Kansas

This town was founded in 1877 by seven members, six of whom were Black along the south fork of the Solomon River. Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, a former slave and Underground Railroad conductor, helped produce the “Kansas Fever” of the late 1870s. Tens of thousands of African Americans left their homes headed for Singleton’s Cherokee County colony or Nicodemus, in Graham County, Kansas.

Promoted as the “Promised Land” throughout the south, founders hosted visits by potential settlers. By 1879 the town’s population stood at about 700.

The All-Black Community of Boley, Oklahoma

The all-black community of Boley, OK, was founded in 1904. With Railroad access and land that helped, Boley became one of at least 20 Black towns in Oklahoma to thrive. By 1907, it had at least 1,000 residents, and twice that many farmers settled outside of town. There were several businesses and an industrial school.

Fort, Mose, Florida

Located just north of St. Augustine, Fort Mose was the first free black settlement in what is now the United States. King Charles II of Spain issued what would become one of the first proclamations that any male slave on an English Plantation who escaped to Spanish Florida would be granted freedom if he joined the Militia and converted to catholicism. We see this a lot throughout history. Whether we are talking Catholicism, Islam, or Christianity, none of these religions had anything to do with the black man, woman, and child’s natural Israelite way of life (Muhammad converted blacks to Islam a thousand years before the Europeans came with Christianity.)

In any event, by 1738, there were hundreds of blacks, mostly runaways from the Carolinas, living in what became Fort Mose. They were skilled workers, blacksmiths, carpenters, cattlemen, boatmen, and farmers. They created a colony of freed people with accompanying women and children that ultimately attracted other fugitive slaves.

Black Wall-Street

There were over twenty black communities in Oklahoma.

Greenwood, a neighborhood in North Tulsa, Oklahoma, was one of the most successful and wealthiest black communities in the United States during the early 20th Century. It was popularly known as America’s “Black Wall Street” due to its financial success that mirrored Wall Street. During the oil boom of the 1910s, which gained the town such titles as “Oil Capital of the World”, the area of northeast Oklahoma around Tulsa flourished, including the Greenwood neighborhood. Home to several prominent Black business people, the community held many multimillionaires.

Greenwood had grocery stores, clothing stores, barbershops, banks, hotels, cafes, movie theaters, two newspapers, and many contemporary homes. The dollar circulated thirty-six to one-hundred times, which means that sometimes it took up to a year before the dollar left the community. To put this in perspective: today, the black dollar leave the black community in fifteen minutes.


Check out more Black History Fun Fact Friday Articles Here

3 Poetry Lessons from Amanda and Angelou

Lesson #1: Study

Amanda Gorman, 22, became the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles at sixteen years old in 2014 and the first national youth poet laureate three years later. On Wednesday, she became the youngest poet to write and recite a piece at a presidential inauguration, following Maya Angelou and Robert Frost’s considerably more experienced footsteps. (Los Angeles Times)

Random fun fact: Amanda is a twin!

In her CNN interview with Anderson, Gorman spoke about the power of words and all the research that went into her poem, such as reviewing texts from poets of previous inaugurations and studying other orators like Frederick Douglass.

“I did a lot of research ever since I found out I was going to be the inaugural poet in late December. Really doing a deep literature dive of other orators.”

I highlight this because research is not a word we hear often associated with poetry, but the best poets do it. It is not only about stringing some rhymes together. The best poets are avid researchers, readers, and students.

While writing “The Hill We Climb,” the poet listened to music that helped put her “in a historic and epic mind-set,” including soundtracks from “The Crown,” “Lincoln,” “Darkest Hour,” and “Hamilton.”

“I wasn’t trying to write something in which those events were painted as an irregularity or different from an America that I know,” said Gorman of the events of January 6th. “America is messy. And I have to recognize that in the poem. I can’t ignore that or erase it.”

I think we can all agree that Maya Angelou had talent, but Angelou also studied the art. In her muteness, she listened to how people spoke, the inflection of their voices, the way their arms and hands moved. She listened to the black ministers and the melody of the preachers, musicians, and performers. She read books of all kinds, traveled to different countries, and learned other languages.

What is the lesson here?

Good poetry is a good study. It is more than the rhyme of a creative mind, but how that creativity can take elements of real life, history, and experience and weave it together with language that is so fluid and precise that it enters the heart and goes right down to the soul.

Lesson #2: When You Are Not Writing/Speaking, Read

In the five years, Angelou was mute, she read every book in the black school library and every book she could get from the white school library. She memorized James Weldon Johnson, Paul Lawerence Dunbar, Countee Cullen, and Langston Hughes. She memorized Shakespear, whole plays, and fifty sonnets. Angelou memorized Edgar Allen Poe and all the poetry.

When Angelou decided to speak, she had a lot to say and many ways to say it.

Gorman is also a reader.

“When she’s not watching cooking shows, Gorman copes with isolation by reading books to prepare her for that future. She picked up former President Obama’s “A Promised Land” the day it came out. She’s also reading Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s “Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History,” which interrogates long-standing historical narratives from the Haitian Revolution to the Alamo.”

Lesson #3: Learning from Others

I am not going to say that I agree with every lyric of Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb.” Still, I enjoyed the intelligence of the delivery, the poetic techniques used, the alliteration, and the metaphoric skill. I have listened to other poems of Amanda’s, and I love the sound of her voice and the movement of her hands at pivotal points. It is not overly dramatic but poised and elegant.

At the Roar, Grand Slam Gorman said, “The air smelled of Hollywood and desperation.” Gorman’s enunciation of words and clarity of speech speaks to her comprehension of the information. Rather from her speech impediment or the love of poetry, you can tell that Gorman has studied language, and it comes through beautifully in her speech.

Maya Angelou has one of the most powerful voices I had ever heard. We are so blessed that she did not stay silent! What I noticed about Angelou was how she did not limit her reading. Maya embraced different voices and cultures, and I believe this nurtured her perspective so that it stretched wide, and from her poetry, you can hear the wisdom of understanding shine through.

Lesson number three is perhaps the most important one of all.

You do not have to agree with everything someone says or does to learn from them. Remember that Yah spoke to Balaam through the mouth of a donkey. (Numb. 22:28)

Lol. These bitmojis are just funny to me

“I am the daughter of black writers. We are descended from freedom fighters who broke their chains and changed the world. They call me.”

– Amanda Gorman

Introduce Yourself: Introducing Guest Author Andi Brooks

Introduce Yourself is back!

Do you like our new badge? Yass!

Please help me extend a warm welcome to Andi Brooks.

Welcome to the PBS Blog!


What is your name and where are you from?

My name is Andi Brooks. I am originally from England, but I have lived in Tokyo for the last 15 years.

Nice! What would your perfect writing room look like?

That’s an interesting question as I was thinking about that only last week. I would love to have a desk in the bay window of a Victorian house overlooking the sea. A rugged, stormy coastline would suit me very well. I love to walk along the beach alone in winter and search the black waves for inspiration.

Yess. That sounds soo relaxing. Let’s talk about when you published your first book? What was that like?

My first book was a collaboration with the American writer Frank Dello Stritto. “Vampire Over London: Bela Lugosi in Britain” was originally published in 2000 and reprinted as an updated and expanded second edition in 2015. A biography of the famous Hollywood actor forever associated with Count Dracula’s role on stage and in the 1931 film, the book was the culmination of a decade of research. It was very exciting to see it in print and gratifying to have it universally praised by critics and readers.

Before working on the book, I wrote articles on vintage horror, sci-fi, and fantasy films for magazines in the UK and America. After the book was published, I put together a Bela Lugosi blog (https://beladraculalugosi.com/) to share the research material and wrote a silly poetry book, but I mainly devoted myself to writing music and promoting live shows in Tokyo.

Apart from one article on the love affair between Bela Lugosi and Clara Bow, which won the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award in 2017, I wasn’t really involved in writing much until I threw myself into Ghostly Tales of Japan.

This book is available now on Amazon!

What’s the most difficult thing about being a writer? The most exciting thing?

The most difficult aspect of being a writer for me is trying to overcome a lack of faith in my ability. I generally know when an idea is good, but I can’t overcome my doubts about my skill as a writer. If I hadn’t been firm with myself, I would still be revising the stories in my latest book, but there has to come a time when you have to say that enough is enough and put your pen aside. As it was, the stories in Ghostly Tales of Japan went through endless rewrites. I agonized over every choice of word and punctuation. It is good to strive for perfection, but you have to realize that there is really no such thing. Being always dissatisfied is a good motivator always to try harder.

The best thing about being a writer is hearing back from readers who have enjoyed reading your work. It makes all of the pain that goes into writing worthwhile.

We do tend to judge ourselves harshly but hearing feedback from readers makes it worthwhile for sure. Andi, who is your favorite writer?

It depends on my mood, but H. G. Wells and H. P. Lovecraft were firm favourites for many years. The scale of their imaginations is astounding.

Wait, wait, wait. I gotta ask you about the TV show real quick. Lovecraft Country, did you watch? Like or Nah?

I’ve never heard of it!

Whaat?

Living in Japan, you can miss an awful lot unless you watch Netflix and the like, which I don’t. I always tend to hear about things long after the fact.

Lovecraft is great for radio adaptations, but tends not to do so well on the screen. I did love the Reanimator films, but I haven’t seen many over good adaptations. I did a quick search online for Lovecraft Country and watched a clip. I can’t really tell if it’s for me or not, but you have sparked my interest, so I will give it a go.

And give it a go you should!

I also love the ghost stories written by M. R. James. I don’t think he has ever been better. At the moment, however, I am completely immersed in the writing of Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The Shadow of the Wind is one of my all-time favourite novels. I have reread it so many times. Although I said that there is no such thing as perfection, this book is as close as it comes. Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s skill was breathtaking. It is such a tragedy that he died so early. The world has been denied the many wonderful books he could have written, but what he left behind is something to be very grateful for. I have literally just put down The Angel’s Game, the sequel to The Shadow of the Wind. I can’t wait for the next book in the series, The Prisoner of Heaven, to pop through my letterbox.

I love it. What is the most thought-provoking book you’ve ever read?

Perhaps Oh! The Places You Will Go by Dr. Seuss. I read it to my son many times when he was small. The truth in that wonderful book will always be relevant. It made me reflect on the ups and downs of my life. Things certainly haven’t always gone to plan, but the disappointments resulted in me taking a different path, which led to where I am today, which is not a bad place to be.

What is the worst advice you’ve ever been given?

When I was at school, a career advisor told me that I should forget dreaming of being a writer, an artist, or a musician and get a job in a factory because it was regular work. I have ignored the advice of his like ever since.

I don’t blame you! Like, whaatt.

Outside of writing, what are some of your passions?

Music has been a big part of my life since my teens. I can’t imagine a day without music. I’ve been in many bands, either playing bass, guitar or singing. About three years ago, I put the guitars aside and decided to start making electronic music. It was something that had been in the back of my mind for a very long time. I regret not trying earlier because it has given me total musical freedom, but better late than never! You can find my electronic musical misadventures on my Bandcamp page (https://airstripone1.bandcamp.com/).

I love it. Musical Therapy is a real thing for sure. We love music on the PBS Blog. In fact, today’s Throwback Thursday! What kind of music do you like?

I listen to a very wide range of music. I like to have something to suit whatever mood I am in. My first music love was the 1970s British band T. Rex. They inspired me to try my hand at making my own music. David Bowie was also a big influence in the 1970s. Then along came punk rock, which was the perfect soundtrack for my teens. Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, X-ray Spex, and, of course, The Sex Pistols had a deep impact on me.

Towards the end of the 1970s and into the early 1980s, I loved British electronic music. Along the way, I’ve listened to everything from folk to jazz. I must give a special mention to Christmas music. I love Christmas and its music, both traditional and popular. I think I have around two hundred CDs of Christmas music!

Sheesh, Andi. Lol

Today, I have listened to underground Japanese electronic music, Nina Simone, the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis, some solo albums by Mick Karn, and David Sylvian of the band Japan. I have an insatiable appetite for music, and I am addicted to buying CDs and records. I try to find something new to listen to almost every day.

What songs have you completely memorized?

My memory is absolutely dreadful! There are some song which I have been listening to for over forty years, and I still don’t know all the lyrics. It’s bizarre! The only song, apart from ones which I have written – and I’m not sure that I can remember them, which I think I know all of the lyrics of is, like many people, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. It’s not a song I usually listen to, but somehow it has wormed its way into my brain. If you only know the words to one song, it’s not a bad choice. I remember lines from movies more but often forget the plots. I love movies as much as music. One day I would like to make my own.

If you could live in a movie, which would it be?

I’m not sure that I would like to live in any of the movies I watch, being a lifelong horror fan.

Ha!

Even the non-horror films I like tend to have elements of darkness that I wouldn’t want to experience. If I’m forced to choose, perhaps it would be Lost Horizon – the Frank Capra original, not the musical remake. I don’t think I would hesitate to accept the offer of escaping the madness of this world to spend my days in the utopia of Shangri-La.

If you could, would you visit the past?

I would love to. There are so many great periods I would like to visit, but wherever I decided to go, I think I would stop off in 1979 first to give a few words of advice to my teenage self. I’m not sure that he would listen, but there are two facts of life that I wish he had known!

Thank you, Andi, for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!


Copyright Andi Brooks

Andi Brooks is a writer of English and Irish descent based in Tokyo. He began writing on vintage horror and science fiction films for American and UK magazines in 1991. With Frank J. Dello Stritto, he co-wrote “Vampire Over London: Bela Lugosi in Britain” (Cult Movies Press 2000), a critically acclaimed biography of the Hollywood legend forever associated with the role of Dracula. In 2017, he received the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award for ‘Dracula and the It Girl,’ an article which recounted the short-lived love affair between Bela Lugosi and silent screen star Clara Bow. In 2020, he published “Ghostly Tales of Japan,” a collection of thirty original ghostly stories set in various Japanese history periods. He is currently writing a second volume of ghostly Japanese stories and a guide to the terrifying sites of Tokyo.

Be Sure You Are Following Andi on Social Media

…and if you are a Horror/ SciFi fan, be sure to check out his book!

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Are you an author? Looking for more exposure? Learn more about my Introduce Yourself Feature HERE. 

 

Note: We pushed this week’s feature back to today, but we will get back on schedule for the next feature. Author interviews post on Mondays.

The Writer Talks with Asha G. Kumar Part One

Thank you to Asha G. Kumar, host of The Writer Talks, for having me on!

Check out Part One of this two-part interview with yours truly. In this first part, we talk about the inspiration behind my first forthcoming Urban Fantasy/SciFi/Speculative Fiction novel, The Women with Blue Eyesmy belief in aliens lol, and my latest poetry collection, My Soul is a Witness. In part two, we dig deeper into my journey as a writer, my advice to other writers, Black History, and you know I had to recite some poetry!

Part 1 is available now on YouTube.

Link below!

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Black History Fun Fact Friday – 3 Little Known Fun Facts About Dr. King

The best way to extend the legacy of those who came before us is not to talk but to do the work they have done. That said, what did King do that we may not already know about? Here are the facts.

1. The Poor People’s Campaign

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., displays the poster to be used during his Poor People’s Campaign  spring and summer, March 4, 1968. King said the campaign would begin April 22 but he was murdered April 4th (AP Photo/Horace Cort)

King founded a poor program called The Poor People’s Campaign that he was getting off the ground before his death. In December 1967, King wanted to bring together poor people from across the country to demand better jobs, better homes, better education, and better lives. The purpose behind the campaign was to “dramatize the plight of America’s poor of all races and make very clear that they are sick and tired of waiting for a better life.” (Dr. Ralph Abernathy) King said, “If you are, let’s say, from rural Mississippi, and have never had medical attention, and your children are undernourished and unhealthy, you can take those little children into the Washington hospitals and stay with them there until the medical workers cope with their needs. And in showing it your children, you will have shown this country a sight that will make it stop in its busy tracks and think hard about what it has done.” Ultimately, King put together a plan that he thought would help solve poverty so that every American had a guaranteed income. King set his program to begin on April 22, 1968, but he was assassinated on April 4.

2. Fought for Better Schools for Children in the Cabrini Green Projects

Civil Rights Museum, Lorraine Motel, 2018.

In 1966, King moved into an apartment on Chicago’s West Side as part of the Freedom Movement. He was less interested in Civil Rights and more interested in Human Rights, which included fair housing in Northern cities. Chicago has always been a segregated city and was even more so in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. A system of redlining was implemented that prevented blacks from purchasing a property in their own communities. Not only was the rent high, but run-down apartments were divided into what was called Kitchenettes. Kitchenette’s split six-family apartments in half, so they became one-room apartments.

“The Kitchenette is our prison, our death sentence without a trial, the new form of mob violence that assaults not only the lone individual but all of us in its ceaseless attacks.” – Richard Wright

The Projects were the answer to the slums but did not fare much better. People eventually abandoned public housing for the suburbs, offended that blacks were “being treated as whites.” Newspapers and Ads boasted Blacks and Italians living side by side, happy and positive. The public didn’t have it. Riots broke out as whites pulled blacks out of their cars, beating them. Middle-class blacks were forced out as the screening process got more and more relaxed. Eventually, Gates were put up, which made residents feel imprisoned.

The once “promised land,” that was the newly established projects, became just another ghetto. Black schools also suffered. One elementary school was overcrowded, and King fought with residents to get a racist teacher fired. “The people from Mississippi ought to come to Chicago to learn how to hate,” he said after being stoned by angry white residents in the then all-white Marquette Park on the city‘s Southwest Side. When parents were in their third day of a planned strike, King met with them, saying, “Should you in any way be persecuted or prosecuted for attempting to seek the best education possible for your children, I can assure you that thousands of parents from all over the city will come to your aid and together we will join you in jail if necessary.”

3. Campaigned for Black Sanitation Workers in Memphis

King helped black sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, in March and April 1968. He compared their struggle with the poor people‘s campaign, saying, “a fight by capable, hard workers against dehumanization, discrimination and poverty wages in the richest country in the world.” He was in Memphis for a sanitation strike when he was murdered at the Lorraine Motel. The deaths of Echol Cole and Robert Walker brought the issue of sanitation workers into the public eye. On February 1, 1968, in Memphis, TN, these men were crushed to death by a trash compensation mechanism on a garbage truck that malfunctioned.

Their deaths highlighted the dangerous conditions, and the strike that resulted from these men’s deaths brought it to the attention of Civil Rights leaders like Dr. King. However, at this time, King was less interested in Civil Rights and saw this not as another opportunity to march but a chance to further the Poor People’s Campaign. “He saw the Memphis strike and the workers’ demand for union rights as embodying the goals and values of his fledgling Poor People’s Campaign, a movement that sought to bring a multiracial coalition of religious leaders, workers, and the poor together to fight poverty in a way that intentionally centered the voices of the marginalized. “(P.R. Lockhart, 4, April 2018). Sadly, he would be shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, later dying at St. Joseph’s Hospital, leaving his campaign unfinished.

King did the work. He didn’t talk about it or stand on the sidelines. MLK was more than an “I Have a Dream,” speech. He was actually on the ground doing the work. Read his books and listen to his other speeches, the ones that aren’t being promoted by the media (The Three Evils of Society is a good one).


PBS aired an excellent documentary this week on black business ownership. Boss: The Black Experience in Business explores the inspiring stories of trailblazing Black entrepreneurs and contemporary business leaders’ significant contributions. From the collapse of the Freedman’s Bank, the lynching of black grocery store owner of The Peoples Grocery, Thomas Moss, to Booker T. Washington’s National Negro Business League, a network of black entrepreneurs. By 1900 there were about 20,000 black-owned businesses in the U.S., and I’ve got tons of ideas for future fun facts!

Watch Boss: The Black Experience in Business

Be sure to check out other Black History Fun Facts on the page here.

Stepping Outside the Genre Box

Once upon a time, back in 2017, I shared the first chapter of a crazy fantasy story about fallen angels disguised as women with blue eyes killing black men for their power and one woman’s mission to stop them. I had no intentions of ever publishing it. My purpose was to share a free story on the blog that readers could enjoy. I played around using some of the same characters and background from another book I had written but have since retired.

To my surprise, so many people enjoyed the first chapter, so I came back the next week and wrote another chapter and then another and then another until I had written eighteen chapters of a book I never intended to write.

The more I shared, the more readers loved it. This got me excited!

In 2020, while we were all bored in the house and in the house bored, I worked on finishing the book. It is now a full-length novel I will release later this year.

If you have been following this blog over the years, you are already familiar with The Women with Blue Eyes (now titled The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen) and I am so excited to finish it for you.

Moral of the Story

 

It’s okay to step outside the box and write something different, especially if it’s something you know readers would enjoy. Master P is not just a rapper, he is also a full-blown businessman with several products. He has everything from cereal to oodles and noodles, to potato chips to fish fry.

As I was drafting this post, I tried to think of how to explain that it’s okay to write in a genre you are not typically known for without sacrificing your author brand.

My first thought was to remind you that you are the brand, not the book. It is less about the genre and more about how you stay true to your message.

This is still true, but last week I came across a post by Phyllis Zimbler Miller where she was given some advice that really put it into perspective for me.

Recently I was advised to “stay in my lane” of military and espionage writing so that I could be considered for that niche. This is especially so because my background supports this lane.

Yet when I mentioned staying in my lane to an entertainment industry exec, she had an interesting POV about branding oneself as a writer.

She didn’t agree with staying in one’s lane in terms of specific genres. Instead, her advice to me was to remain the same lens and perspective across genres.

“Remain the same lens and perspective across genres.”

I love this because it frees the writer from the genre box. In my own words, I would say to write in whatever genre you want, but keep your message consistent. While Master P does many different things he wasn’t known for before, his “No Limit” message stayed the same.

Since I usually write Black Historical Fiction, my story will incorporate black history, all the way down to how I represent the characters. In Greek Mythology, Paschar is the angel of vision and is a white male. In my version, Paschar is still a fallen angel, but she operates in the skin of a black woman.

I’ve also infused black history into the narrative with my character’s background and dialogue. If you’ve been following the series on this blog, Miss Vicky is a new character you haven’t met yet. She is a member of the renovation committee at the new Altgeld Projects and former cook for the Chicago Chapter of the Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast Program. Here is an excerpt from her giving black history to a couple of corner boys working for Big Sam’s organization:

Closer to the buildings, girls jumped double-dutch on the sidewalk, and young boys stood up on their bikes, riding them back and forth. The boys wore no shirt, and yellow headscarves hung out of their back pants pockets. Their pants were always sagging, revealing their boxers underneath. They knew they will be scolded by Miss Vicky if caught. She was always telling them to pull their pants up and giving the history of Buck Breaking. It was the practice of slave owners raping black men as a form of punishment on the plantations and then forcing them to sag their pants in the fields, so everyone knew the cost of disobedience.

“Nuh, uh,” the boys would protest, “I heard that started in the jails Miss Vicky.”

“You heard wrong,” the middle-aged woman would protest, “that’s not to say it didn’t circulate in the jails, but that ain’t where it started. Buck Breaking was popular in the Caribbean ya see, and it involved white supremacists and slave owners raping a male slave in front of the public to embarrass him and make him feel less of a man. Buck Breaking became popular when slave rebellions went up. Enslaved men were first stripped naked and flogged.”

“What’s flogged Miss Vicky?”

“Boy, don’t they teach you nothing in school?”

The boy would laugh, holding onto the handles of his bicycle.

“He don’t go, Miss Vicky,” another boy would chide, laughing at his friend.

“You remember how ya mama beat you for stealing car parts last year? That’s flogging. Whippings. Beatings.”

“She flogged ya ass,” the boys’ friend would tease.

Vicky would hide her laughter and continue her lesson. “Like I said, they would flog—whoop the man in front of a crowd after they raped him to serve as a warning to other slaves. Sometimes enslaved men with families were forced to have sex with each other in front of their family, or they were raped in front of their sons…”

“Dang,” the boy would say, doing wheelies on his bike.

“Hmm hmm, sure did. Lot of ’em who had gone through the process of buck breaking killed themselves afterward or ran away and never returned. Better learn ya history.”

“Aiight,” the boys would say, smiling and riding off. Miss Vicky would go on to finish her laundry, and the boys would ride off and play. Secretly, they enjoyed listening to her black history stories and would ask her questions just to get her talking. Though, they still did not pull up their pants.

The boys were not regular teens. They were corner boys for Big Sam’s crew. The yellow bandanas that hung from their back pocket was proof that they belonged to the organization. Miss Vicky liked talking to them because they were innocent during these conversations. When she spoke to them, she saw their youthfulness peaking out from behind their eyes. It was hard trying to get a fourteen-year-old boy who paid all his mama’s bills with drug money and had already decided he was a man to listen to you, but when Miss Vicky told her stories, they listened. At these times, she could see them like she used to when they were just four and five years old before Scar recruited them.

How does a Black Historical Fiction writer write Fantasy? By infusing black history into the narrative. You will learn how it all ties in when you read the book.

Read. Read. Read.

Another tip I would add is to read books in that genre. No matter how deep your message, nothing will free you from not following the basic elements associated with that genre, so read, read, read. Otherwise, nothing is wrong with stepping outside the genre box.

Share Your Work

Next, don’t be afraid to share your work. I don’t know if I would have been as confident in this story as I am if not for my freedom readers and their feedback! Thank you all for helping me pick a subtitle. The winner (as you can see) is Rise of the Fallen!

Try It Out on the Blog

And finally, blogging is another great way to write your book! It gives you the chance to get instant feedback that could help you to stay motivated along the way.

“I don’t think Byron stands a chance from falling.”
“Wow wow wow. I am enjoying this story. I’m all invested. I can’t wait for the next installment. This story has some interesting characters. Keep up the excellent penmanship!!!!”

“I’m truly enjoying this :-). I’m glad I can click on episode 3 😛 Thank you EC. Much love from Spain.”

“More please!”

“Loved this and wanted to read more. Is there more?”

“You are an excellent writer.”

“Hi Yecheilyah! I’m new to this series. I will need to go back and catch up! Chapter ten is captivating.”

About.

When Tina’s nephew Ronnie died, it traumatized her. It wasn’t just that he died. It was the way he died. After taking custody of Ronnie’s sisters and brother, Tina experienced supernatural phenomenons that eventually led to therapy and hallucinogenic suppressants. This didn’t help.

She meets Azbuga, an Archangel sent to tie the missing pieces together, still connecting her to Ronnie’s death.

Paschar is the angel of vision. She once saw the beauty of visions from the Almighty and projected these into human consciousness. Now, she is limited, capable only of seeing physical beauty, extracting energy from mortal man, and projecting illusions.

Paschar has fallen, and in a jealous rage, she attacks black men for their power. How dare he choose them over her?

Can Tina, Jason, and Az defeat Paschar and her legion once and for all? More black men are dying, and you can’t fight spiritual warfare with physical weapons.

Coming 2021

10 Good Things that Happened In 2020

With everyone talking about all the bad things in 2020, I almost felt compelled to join in. Almost.

One day, I will open up about ten bad things that happened in 2020.

Today is not that day lol.

The interesting thing about this list is I forgot most of it happened!

I did not forget about the books I published or the fact that I am still above ground, but a lot of this other stuff had become blurred amidst the pandemic, my mom’s death, and other things. As I looked back at pictures and dates, I could only think, “wow. A lot of good happened this year. I was just too focused on the bad.”

As you read this, I hope you will think more about some good things that happened to you this year that you might have forgotten about in the chaos. Yes, even if the only good thing is that you did not contact this deadly virus and are still above ground. Even if all you did was stay safely inside, kept your job and your family healthy. These are the most important things.

10. REVIVAL with Harry Lennix

I had the privilege of being contacted by TriCoast Entertainment to review Harry Lennix’s new film, REVIVAL, featuring a star-studded, mostly black cast in the retelling of the Book of John. With Michelle Williams playing Mary Magdalen, Chaka Khan as Herodias, Wendy Raquel Robinson as the woman with the blood issue, Kenny Lattimore as Lazarus, Harry Lennix as Pontius Pilate and Mali Music as Yahoshua, Revival! is a part short film, part musical, and part Broadway Play. You can check out my full review here.

9. Freedom Train Network

I enjoyed being a featured author for The Freedom Train Network at its Black Woman Celebration back in May. I also got to interview with them on The Freedom Train Network Podcast. It was a fabulous experience, and I am so thankful for platforms such as this one. Joseph Ward, Patrick Irvine, and Sam Carter, three Tallahassee natives dedicated to the betterment of their city and black America, founded the network designed to highlight black entrepreneurs, black professionals, black community leaders, and black-owned businesses throughout the United States. They use this network to educate, inspire, inform, uplift, and equip listeners with valuable and purposeful information. The network also serves as a media resource directory for black Americans who may not be informed about their available resources. (FTN)

8. Ambassador for Greenwood Dist

I became an ambassador for this amazing clothing line called Greenwood Dist. Greenwood Dist. is passionate about “proving that a black-owned business can celebrate black excellence while still making the market’s dopest clothing.” Greenwood believes that “fashion, culture, media, and art can and SHOULD help advocate and ensure that people’s voices are heard. Black culture is the biggest determinant of what’s “cool” and popular. Our culture determines everything from the way society talks to the brands that are popular.”

If you care about supporting black-owned businesses and you care about supporting me, be sure to check out the site. If you see something you like, use my discount code Soul at checkout for ten percent off. 

7. Sold My Books at Barnes and Noble

When I first started working with B&N, I was skeptical. The chain is not exactly doing well. There is not much black literature on the shelves, and I wasn’t sure I could stand out among so many notable authors. With bookstores, it’s like people have to know already who you are to look for you. I hoped to get my Georgia online audience excited enough to visit the store in the area. Well, I don’t know if that happened, but I do know the books sold, and I could bring in more to stock.

6. Visited Spain for First Time

We got to visit Madrid and Alicante, Spain, for the first time. It was just as things unfolded with the virus. We went and got back just in time. (I think Spain shut down like a week later). We picked oranges and lemons from trees, helped plant a garden in Almoradi, a city that gives free land to its citizens, and ate homemade churros and chocolate with coffee. It was so good y’all. We did other things top of course, but this is the cliff notes version.

5. Published Four Books (3 Revised)

I revised The Stella Trilogy, something I have wanted to do because of the poor editing and cover design the first time around. All three parts got a professional edit, new covers, new formatting, and my own ISBN. And I could still release a new poetry book. Now that I think of it, I published four books this year. Between Slavery and Freedom is available free on my website here, and the entire Stella Trilogy is available on KU here.

4. Books in a School

Griffin High School bought some of my books for their school library after my visit in January. I didn’t get to sign them because COVID hit before I could but I am Soul, Renaissance, Revolution, Keep Yourself Full, and Even Salt Looks Like Sugar are all available at the school.

3. Books in a Public Library

I got I am Soul into the Dallas Public Library in Dallas, Georgia. We stock next month. This is exciting because it opens the door for me to get my books into other, larger libraries. As I have heard, it is easier to get into the others when you get into one. Well, we will see if that’s true. I want to focus less on selling books one-by-one and more on packaging them in bulk for larger companies and corporations and then, if it is Yah’s will, do more teaching and coaching. I will still write and publish my own books, but I am ready to move on to what’s next for me. There are no limits.

2. The Next Generation

I spoke to four classes of tenth and eleventh graders at Griffin about writing, publishing, my journey as an author, and advice on how they can Self-Publish their own books. This was the highlight of 2020 for me. I love young people, their innocence and straightforwardness, their non-sugarcoating questions. I love their realness. Because of school policy, I couldn’t take pictures of them except for the media specialist’s one, as seen here. However, some students bought books, some of them asked questions in private after the session, and almost all of them wrote to me thank you cards.

1. Alive and Well

Above all else, the most important thing of it all is that I still have the breath of life in my body. I am alive, my family is alive, and despite everything we are healthy and have lacked nothing during the pandemic.

UPDATE: I forgot about the awesome dinner I had as keynote speaker with Queens Circle of ATL Book Club! As I’ve said, a lot of good happened I forgot about in the chaos.

Call me naïve, but I still believe in silver linings. Even if it’s something you think you might have done poorly or something that went badly, always look for growth in it.