Kelly Gissendaner Will Be Executed on Monday Without Our Intervention…

kelly laughing

Hello World,

Last week, when I first saw a story about Kelly Gissendaner, I quickly looked at the mug shot and read a few lines of the story “Weather Threat Postpones Georgia’s First Execution of a Woman in 70 Years” and concluded, she looks like a criminal and went on with my life…

kelly mug shot

But then through the blog post “When Is Grace Enough?”  by Alisha L. Gordon on findthepieces.com, I saw another side of this dead woman walking initially through the picture above…and then through these words…

This matters, even now, as I have friends and colleagues who personally know Kelly. They’ve laughed and talked with her. They’ve walked with her through new theological understandings and guided her to completing a certificate in theological studies through the Candler School of Theology and the Lee Arrendale Prison, where she’s currently housed. The partnership between Candler and Arrendale has provided women like Kelly the opportunity to transform their lives — from the inside out. It has given her a fresh start on a life that took a terrible turn. It was a full extension of God’s grace in action. To read the rest of the blog post, go to findthepieces.com.

And then on Friday, on the WAOK radio program “Too Much Truth” with Derrick Boazman, I listened to the testimony of Nikki Roberts, a former inmate at Metro State Prison in Georgia and pastor’s daughter, who found herself in jail and suicidal…As a pastor’s daughter myself, I was compelled to listen as she cried and described her friendship with Kelly Gissendaner…But for Kelly Gissendaner, she may have taken her life…Nikki Roberts talks about Kelly Gissendaner here…

Kelly Gissendaner’s story has even found its way to The New York Times

From “A Death Row Inmate Finds Common Ground With Theologians.”

A lot of convicted felons find God while in prison. Some of their stories rise to the level of literature — Oscar Wilde, Malcolm X. Others are less sincere; parole boards around the country are treated to a lot of conversion stories.

Few are anything like Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 46, who is scheduled on Monday to be put to death by lethal injection. She became pen pals with one of the world’s most prominent theologians.

In 1998, Ms. Gissendaner was sentenced to death for persuading her boyfriend to murder her husband. The crime, which she now admits, was brutal. Many, including some of her slain husband’s relatives, want her to die. She probably will; the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency this week. To read the rest of the story, go here.

Here is a link to her clemency application

If you are moved to support Kelly Gissendaner like I am, you can contact:

Gov. Nathan Deal at 404-656-1776 or @GovernorDeal on Twitter. You can also contact the Georgia’s Board of Pardons and Paroles at 404-656-4661 and www.pap.georgia.gov.

You can also:

sign this change.org petition…   

or sign this letter if you are a clergy member

Also, tonight at 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., “A Vigil of Light, Life and Solidarity for Kelly Gissendaner” will held at the William R. Cannon Chapel at 515 S Kilgo Cir NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30322.

All are welcome to come and celebrate Kelly Gissendaner and what she has meant to the many communities of which she is part. The service will feature several speakers who testified on Tuesday at Kelly’s clemency hearing before the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles — as well as music, poetry, and prayer.

Speakers:

Rev. Yolanda Thompson, MDiv/MSJ
Pastor, Joy n’Java Fellowship

Rev. Della P. Bacote, M.Div.
Chaplain, St. Thomas Healthcare System
Teacher, Metro Nashville Public Schools
Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church, Nashville, TN

And here is link to a Facebook page supporting Kelly Gissendaner, and if you tweet about Kelly Gissendaner, use the hashtag #KellyOnMyMind…

And of course, she can use our prayers….

Any thoughts?

 

Posted in black talk radio, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Where Was Issa Rae When I Was an ‘Awkward Black Girl?’ Check Out Her New Book!!!

Issa Rae and Me :)

Issa Rae and Me :)

Hello World,

On Monday, awkward black girls from around the A as well as people that appreciate Issa Rae’s special brand of quirky, self-deprecating and smart humor swarmed the Alliance Theatre to attend a book signing for debut author Issa Rae. Her recently released book The book coverMisadventures of Awkward Black Girl, now a New York Times Best Seller, is a collection of heartfelt essays charting her love affair with the Internet and how she become a YouTube sensation with her comedy series Awkward Black Girl, her journey to loving her natural hair and weight, growing up with an African dad, connecting with other types of (not awkward) black people and more. Since she created her web series in 2011, she has secured more than 25 million views and over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. And her astonishing success has led to other opportunities including being one of the co-hosts of ASPire’s popularly weekly talk series exhale which will have four new episodes in June. In addition, she developed a TV series with Shonda Rhimes for ABC and is currently developing a half-hour comedy for HBO.

“I ultimately want to be a super producer like a Shonda Rhimes meets Oprah meets Diddy meets Ellen,” Issa Rae said with a laugh after I asked what is her ultimate career goal.

So that ends my official journo recap of Issa Rae’s book signing…Up next, my personal connection with “Awkward Black Girl.”

Author and playwright Pearl Cleage interviewing Issa Rae....

Author and playwright Pearl Cleage interviewing Issa Rae….

I’m now at that age (41) where I’m still young enough to look up to people, but I’m just old enough to be inspired by people younger than me as well. It’s an awkward age, but I’m trying to embrace it a day at a time. While chatting with (interviewing) Issa Rae, watching her officially be interviewed by Pearl Cleage at the book signing and listening to her read from her book, I realized that knowing that someone like her would have gone a long way to encouraging the awkward black girl that I was…sixth grade

So here is a picture of me when I was at my most awkward…that’s me in the pink sweater vest…so cool, lemme tell ya…I was one of three black people in my sixth grade class at Sandy Springs Middle School as you can see…That was awkward enough, but there is more…Although I was of one of three black people, I was the only one bussed to the school that was in a primarily white neighborhood from the south side of Fulton County as a part of the Minority to Majority Program. People assumed I came from the ghetto although I was in private school the year before…I remember one of the white boys in my class asked me if I could rap seeing I was from the hood and all…Did I look I could rap? Yeah, right…With my button-down shirt and clear school boy glasses…My best friends were Judy Blume books and chocolate bars…I think not…(Although Issa Rae can bus a rhyme) And this was around the time that my interest in boys was most painful (other than in my ’30s) because I liked black boys and there were very few of them at the school…And then I couldn’t figure out what to do with my hair…My hair was permed, but I didn’t know how to style it…And let’s just say my fashion sense was in transition…Did I mention I love/loved chocolate? (Yes, I did. See above…) So I was plump (not fat) on top of everything else that made me awkward…

So last night, all of this came back to me particularly as Issa Rae read from her book and later as I sped read through a few of her essays…(I will leisurely read and highlight over the weekend)…

Issa Rae read an excerpt of her first essay, A/S/L, of her book last night in which she described being drawn to the Internet at 11 years old and how her interest in boys burgeoned behind the safe or not-so-safe anonymity of a computer screen…(So glad the Internet wasn’t around when I was that age or I would have been in trooouble…)

Before my parents caught wind of frightening news reports of child predators, I spent my days and after-school evenings in chat rooms, learning to speed read, talking to kids my age who were also ahead of the curve. Or pedophiles, who were remarkably creative and persistent in their forbidden pursuit. Pedos actually had it made in the mid-nineties, before the media exposed them. Talk about the glory days.
My friends at school, other fifth graders, didn’t seem to relate when I mentioned “chat rooms” and “profiles” or when I sang along to the dial-up internet song I made up in my head. It seemed that, for a brief moment, only I was privy to this alternate American universe that lived online.By the time my family moved to Los Angeles to join my dad, a pediatrician, who had seized an opportunity to open his own family clinic there, my relationship with the computer had grown immensely, much to the dismay and irritation of my mother.“You’re always on the computer! Go do your homework.”“I already finished.”“Well then, go outside and play!”She just didn’t get it. Only recently, in my late twenties, did she come to realize that my excessive computer use is what led me to becoming the self-employed, almost-focused career woman I am today.

Just delicious, don’t you think?!!! And if you want to read more, you have to buy your own copy of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl!!!

But before you go, check out more pics from this fun book signing….Shout out to my soror and photographer extraordinaire Tiffany Powell for the awesome pics!!!…Check out her blog www.powell-pics.com.

Issa Rae reading an excerpt of her book...

Issa Rae reading an excerpt of her book…

Pearl interviewing Issa Rae...The sponsors for the evening behind them...

Pearl interviewing Issa Rae…The sponsors for the evening behind them…

Angela Burt-Murray, co-founder of Cocoa Media Group and Issa Rae having a moment...

Angela Burt-Murray, co-founder of Cocoa Media Group and and Issa Rae having a moment…

Me interviewing Issa Rae...

Me interviewing Issa Rae…

Wow, this shot made my year...Me and Pearl Cleage...#inspiration...

Wow, this shot made my year…Me and Pearl Cleage…#inspiration…

The long line of people waiting for Issa Rae to sign their books...Incidentally, it was Natural Hair Nirvana up in there...

The long line of people waiting for Issa Rae to sign their books…Incidentally, it was Natural Hair Nirvana up in there…

Any thoughts?

 

Posted in Book Notes, Celebrity Interviews, Marketing & Promotion, Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Why I Have A Dead Spiritual Mentor Like Mo’Nique Does In Hattie McDaniel…

Hello World, moniquehattie

Tonight is the most exciting night in Hollywood! It’s the night that a new class of movie industry professionals will be bestowed with that unmistakeable gold statuette for reaching the zenith of their careers. Yes, you guessed it! It’s Oscar Sunday, and the awards ceremony will be telecast tonight at 7 p.m. EST! 

The Hollywood Reporter, as a part of its Oscar coverage, recently featured an article “Oscar’s First Black Winner Accepted Her Honor in a Segregated ‘No Blacks’ Hotel in L.A” about Hattie McDaniel, the first black person to win an Academy Award 75 years ago.  McDaniel won the Best Supporting Actress Award for portraying Mammy in “Gone With the Wind.” In addition, the magazine also interviewed actress and comedian Mo’Nique as she paid homage to McDaniel by wearing gardenias in her hair as McDaniel did on her Oscar night when she won the Best Supporting Actress Award for the role of Mary in “Precious” in 2010. Unfortunately, Mo’Nique had negative things to say in the article “Mo’Nique: I Was “Blackballed” After Winning My Oscar.” I don’t know all of the politics of Hollywood which was discussed in the piece so I have no opinion about that. But what did capture my attention was Mo’Nique’s mystical relationship with her chosen mentor Hattie McDaniel who died several years before Mo’Nique was even born…Below are just a few snippets from the article in which she describes this relationship…

Do you know I keep a picture of Hattie McDaniel in my closet in an 8-by-10 frame? As I’m looking at her right now, it looks like her smile is shifting. Yes, I’m talking about you, Miss Hattie McDaniel! (Laughs.) What that woman had to endure was criticism from the white community and the black community. She didn’t have options to say, “No, I’m not going to accept that,” because she was an actress. I’m just grateful. I’m appreciative that she endured all of that so that this little girl named Mo’Nique wouldn’t have to.

Spiritually, I’ve gotten an opportunity to meet and talk with her. And I read her life story, which is absolutely amazing — just to see how amazingly talented this woman was, and the mistreatment she received all the way up to her death. This woman gave everything to the business. It help me to put my priorities in order and realize that my family comes first. Because when all of this is over and they say the last “action” and the last “cut,” I want to have my family. When Hattie died, she died alone with a nurse by her side, and no money.

In having my conversations with Hattie McDaniel, you know what she said? “Mo’Nique, my story’s already been told. There needs to be a new story told.” So all I’ll do right now is wink my eye to you over the phone when I say that. (Laughs.)

catherineSo I’m sure that some people think it’s weird that Mo’Nique feels like she has met, connected to and is mentored by a dead woman….I’m not one of them because I too have a dead spiritual mentor that I feel like I’ve met, am connected to and am mentored by…My dead spiritual mentor is Catherine Marshall…I believe I first discovered her in 2002 through her book “Something More” Below are 10 Reasons Why I Chose Catherine Marshall as My Spiritual Mentor.

  1. Her personal relationship with God was the foundation of her creativity, and she wrote books that sold at least 18 million copies…I have wanted to be a writer since I was six years old, but it wasn’t until I developed a personal relationship with God that I had something to write about…
  2. She was spiritually adventurous…She was never satisfied with what she knew about God. Every book she wrote demonstrated that she aspired to know something more…I aspire to be that way…
  3. She wrote fiction and non-fiction books…I, too, don’t want to be confined to one genre…
  4. She was a pastor’s daughter…I am a pastor’s daughter, a pastor’s granddaughter and a pastor’s niece…
  5. She attended Atlanta’s Agnes Scott College where her papers are actually housed…I grew up in Atlanta…And a few years ago as a birthday gift to myself, I spent the day at Agnes Scott reading through her papers…
  6. She was a big dreamer…I am big dreamer….
  7. She believed in miracles….I believe in miracles…
  8. She really wanted to be married…After her first husband died and she lived as a single woman for several years, she wrote her desire to get remarried which she ultimately did…Her testimony inspired me during my single years…
  9. She was devoted to her marriage and family life although she was passionate about her writing career…Although I LOVE words, you can’t cuddle up to them at night or laugh with them at the movies, etc…Well, I guess you could, but it’s not the same…you know what I mean….
  10. She can’t reject me…Since she died when I was 10 years old, I didn’t have the chance to meet her as an adult…But honestly, I don’t know if I would have had the courage to approach her about mentoring me had she lived long enough to meet me…Thankfully, she wrote so much about her life in her books, I feel like she is personally advising me all of the time through her words…

One last thing: I hesitate to share this but here it goes…I feel like I’ve met her too…I had a dream about her shortly after I started reading her books…I won’t share all of the specifics, but I will say that she told me to look up Ephesians 5:1 “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children.” So as much as I look up to her, she advised that my ultimate guide is God…

So do you think I’m weird? My husband does :) LOL…

Any thoughts?

Posted in Book Notes, Catherine Marshall, love and marriage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments