E.M. Monroe

"I knew, not from memory, but from hope, that there were other models by which to live." Weems


July 2014

Models Monday: Commemorative Lies

Last week, I wrote a post about the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and offered a few reasons why I’ve waited to go. Today, I have a new reason that pushes back my visit even later. Yesterday (Sunday) was the last church service to be held at Friendship Baptist, Atlanta’s oldest baptist church, founded by the formerly enslaved 152 years ago. Sometime this week, the historic church will be demolished in order to make room for a new football stadium. How is this city actually honoring civil and human rights by erecting a museum and demolishing an actual edifice demonstrating what the Center can only emulate?

Temporarily, Friendship will be moved to Morehouse College where services will be held in the Ray Charles Auditorium. The move to Morehouse pays homage to its history of being founded in Friendship’s basement; followed by Spelman College two years later. I’m not sure how you “replace” the original work of people who built their own sanctuary and consider the new construction the return of the past craftsmanship and social justice work of the original.

The New York Times ran a story about Friendship’s end that included Kevin Liles beautiful photograph of Sula Burr who, according to the caption, “arrived early for the final service of Friendship Baptist Church.”


I wish Ms. Burr had been interviewed, and yet I respect that she was granted space to reflect, remember, and perhaps grieve. This photograph gives me a greater appreciation for preservation. New shiny things are not always better than old things. I’m sure the National Center for Civil and Human Rights will place a stained glass window, a brick, an organ pipe on display to commemorate the original Friendship Baptist Church. When I visit, I’ll know Friendship’s relics will be the Center’s lie, the City’s lie, and Falcon’s owner Arthur Blank’s lie because if they truly honored the site and its history, they would have left that church alone.

The decision by the Times to place Mike Tierney’s article about the end of Friendship Baptist in the Pro Football section is a thoughtful one. The article’s placement answers Martin Luther King, Jr.’s the questions he lays out in “Letter from Birmingham Jail:”

On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”

Well, Dr. King, I think they were thinking about football; praying for their teams to win; raising their voices in support of their teams. The South, it seems, worships football as its God. The razing of Friendship Baptist Church for the construction of a new house of worship  football stadium confirms that this southern city has a very supportive congregation fan base who value football as its God.


Models Monday: Resemblances

Janeen as Me

For people who know me,  you could easily think that the photograph above depicts me in someone’s kitchen. You would be wrong though, as my mother is the teen featured in an early image of our family kitchen. When I saw this photograph for the first time, I actually thought it was me before it sank in that it couldn’t have been given her dress and the kitchen’s decor. All the same, this was the for the first time in my life that I recognized why family and long time friends often mistake me for my mother.

The resemblance mattered to me because last week, I noted how my mother sometimes presumes that I am her duplicate. The presumption troubles me, but ONLY when it comes to matters of personality. My mother is much more social than I am and her speech is far less delicate. To that end, even though she’s usually correct when she speaks on my behalf regarding some social event my family requests my involvement, but the way she states my case takes a “straight no chaser” approach that reflects nothing of my manner. I would give you an example, but I only repeat her pronouncements to close friends in very private conversations.

Despite these significant differences in personality, I’m proud to resemble my mother in many other ways. Like many of my friends who were the children of working class parents, punctuality was a must. I was never tardy for any class from kindergarten through college; I am usually punctual for meetings and appointments; I’ve never overslept. Now that I’m a mother, my parenting in this regard models my mother’s practice. Thus, my son has never been tardy or even absent from school. When I shared that news with my mother, she was beaming with pride. In my mother’s time (she graduated from high school in 1971), employers asked for transcripts and placed a premium on days tardy and days absent. Employers used this information to determine if they could rely on you; if you were responsible; if you took your work seriously; were dependable. For my mother then, her five-year-old grandson, is on his way to becoming a reliable man.

I wonder if attendance records have significance beyond school these days. Do employers request this information (which is most likely protected by law)? The parents whose children were in class with my son certainly didn’t seem to value time. Typically, he was one of seven children, out of eighteen, who was in class in time to get settled and to ready himself for the work ahead. Sometimes I would chat in the halls with other teachers or other parents beyond the official start of class and stay as late as fifteen minutes after 8. As I would leave the parking lot, I would see parents dropping off their children. They clearly weren’t concerned about disrupting class or in teaching their child(ren) the value of timeliness. My mother’s concern for timeliness taught me to value time. Thus, I never lusted for financial wealth as much as I did for being time rich. In my world, time is a precious resource and one of my greatest desires is to have as much control over it as I can. To this end, my mother and I both have placed constraints on how long we will wait to be seen by doctors, hairstylists, or grocers. Both of us have left examination rooms after we’ve been tricked into being assigned a room with the expectation that the doctor will be right in. Now, I give my doctors an hour before I leave and ask to be rescheduled; my mother gives 45 minutes. For both of us, wasting our time is an egregious offense. What I’ve learned from this practice is that you only have to perform this act once before your doctor, dentist, or midwife knows to see you right away upon subsequent visits. I’ve even started checking out in the 10 items or less lanes when my grocery store has two lanes open and ten customers in each line. Since I’m a regular customer and make it clear to the manager that they need more lanes open and fewer people straightening cans of corn during busy times they pay attention (and I’m very pleasant in voicing my frustration).  If it happens that another customer gets in line when I’m making my protest in the 10 items or less lane, I will apologize and offer an explanation or I’ll let them get in line ahead of me if I haven’t put my groceries on the belt.

So yes, in some ways I am my mother’s duplicate…though one who has tried to dull her sharp tongue.

Measuring Lives through Currency

!museum11Museum honors young lives lost in church bombing.

For some time now, I’ve been sitting on this report (hyperlink above offers a video news report and transcript of the interviews with the two women pictured above) on the exhibit on display at Atlanta’s new museum in tribute to the four girls killed in the KKK bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. I have yet to visit the new National Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta, but I plan to make it before summer ends. Admittedly, some of my reluctance has to do with having to purchase tickets. I’ve been to many places around the world where museums, in particular, are free. While this is true of D.C., I don’t understand why most cultural sites, that are not National Parks sites, cost so much money. Even in Paris, entrance to the Louvre is free on Sunday. Tickets to the High Museum in mid-town Atlanta range from $12 for children to $19.50 for adults (the senior rate and the student rate is $16.50) and to my knowledge there are no free days. The entrance fee does not include the $5 per hour parking fees for some lots. Take the MARTA you ask? If you live in an Atlanta suburb, I dare you find a MARTA stop. The only folk I know who use MARTA regularly are those who live close to a stop; I don’t. Instead of using my state tax money to show cruelty towards immigrants, I’d rather it be used towards providing free days to museums and other cultural venues like the theater and concert halls. Any society that denies its citizens routine access to art and culture prevents the development of imaginative, curious, and serious subjects and greatly hinders the likelihood of maturity emerging from its populace. We see just such a lack in U.S. culture through the foolishness available all day long on television. Keeping Up with the Kardashians, The Real Housewives of Anywhere USADuck Dynasty, and Honey Boo Boo are a few examples of this drivel. The $200 million Glu Mobile will take in revenue for the vapid app Kim Kardashian: Hollywood exemplifies the impact of this barren culture. Apparently, Kardashian herself will likely earn $85 million. Though the app itself is free, in order to really live like Kim, you have to pay real money for this faux experience. This culture has no idea what it means to dream anymore. Nevertheless, I will get to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, but I plan on resenting the fee, so that I can witness the exhibit paying homage to Addie Mae Collins (14), [Carol] Denise McNair [11], Carole Robertson [14], and Cynthia Wesley [14] as they were heartlessly murdered just 18 days after Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his dreams in that beautifully powerful August 28, 1963 speech.

Before viewing the above video, I read the transcript describing the visit of two women featured in the photograph who very close to to the children killed in that fatal blast. Katrina Robertson Reed (left), Carole Robertson’s cousin, recounted the events of that September morning and the trials her family suffered in the explosion’s aftermath. Barbara Cross (right), daughter of Rev. John Cross who was the minister at 16th Baptist church, tells how she was in church that day and still weeps when recalling Addie Mae’s final goodbye through the prescience she ascribes to her young friend. What most disturbed me about this story was Reeds final words, which I imagine were prompted by the reporter’s question, the one always asked of black survivors of monumental tragedies: “Was it worth it.” In closing the interview, Reed offers this, “Had it not been for their deaths, we would not have had the Voting Rights Act, we would not have had the Civil Rights Act.” Continuing she adds, “These girls were chosen. Our families suffered a lot. But I think it’s been worth it.” Beloved, the one returned from the dead in Toni Morrison’s novel of the same name didn’t believe that taking her life was a forgivable offense. My friend Tanya has long acknowledged the importance of the moment in Beloved when Ella says to Stamp Paid, “You know as well as I do that people who die bad don’t stay in the ground” (188). I agree with Morrison when she describes her inability to presume to know the judgements of the dead. In order to consider Sethe’s lethal slashing of her daughter’s throat, Morrison thought that the only person fit to make any judgement of Sethe’s actions was the sacrificed daughter. To that end, unlike Reed, I’m uncomfortable saying with any certainty that the death of those girls was “worth it.” I think it’s an altogether different remark from Mrs. Till-Mobley saying that she wanted her son Emmett’s heartless, ugly death to be meaningful, I don’t recall her claiming that his death was “worth it.” I do think Reed was prompted by this question either directly or indirectly given her rearing in a culture that expects black Americans to respond to this dehumanizing question.

Black Americans and immigrants of color still have to fight daily for their right to live freely and in peace. Let’s say you can vote (if you haven’t committed a felony or weren’t born at a time when social security cards were issued or the midwife who served your rural community didn’t print birth certificates) there are so many things folk of color dare not do: you can’t go home from the corner store after purchasing Skittles and Iced-Tea; you can’t play your radio at a volume that another motorist finds unacceptable; you better not be in a car accident and seek help from someone in the community where you were injured; you’d be hard pressed to have a wonderful schooling experience with teachers who were interested in teaching you anything and routinely supporting your intellectual abilities (only athletic talent gets positive attention); good luck telling the police that they’re harassing you and living to see another day after the chokehold they lethally applied; good luck rockin’ those Havana or Senegalese twists in support of your homeland’s security; forget buying medication if you’re seriously ill and your meds don’t come in a generic form; don’t even try crossing the U.S. border because your life is threatened–we know you’re only five, but we can’t offer you sanctuary anywhere in these United States–so go on back to Central America, tell your parents that we’re a nation of laws (unless your black, unarmed, face down on a subway platform in Oakland) and we already have a workforce that will accept low wages–that’s what we send these people to inner-city public school for. So what exactly was the martyrdom worth? Was it “worth it” for Addie Mae Collins’s family when they discovered that her body was not found in the plot where they buried her? Was it worth it for the McNairs when the city of Birmingham haughtily supported his alleged crime of accepting bribes while holding an elected position? This man’s daughter gets blown to bits at church and we should expect him to live without being deeply impacted by her death? They didn’t think he paid enough? After all the damage, hurt, and loss J. Edgar Hoover caused during his term as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), this country still finds it acceptable to name its headquarters after him but Birmingham decided they needed to immediately rename The Chris McNair Health Center upon his fall from grace? McNair’s unwilling sacrifice of his daughter in a nation that viciously declared inequality and legally informed disgrace upon all black Americans wasn’t punishment enough?

Though the U.S. loves tales of redemption, like romance, they’re fairy tales. This country continues to go about the business of killing black children–Aiyana Stanley Jones, Trayvon Marton, Jordan Davis, Timothy Stansbury, Wendell Allen, Adrian Broadway, Titania Mitchell, Rahquel Carr, Endia Martin, Jasmin Thar, Haidiya Pendelton and every frightened brown child crossing the border seeking sanctuary in these United States. 50 years after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four black girls as well as two black boys, Johnny Robinson and Virgil Ware in the aftermath, the observation James Baldwin offered his nephew about the world he would face as a black person in America still hold true. “You were born into a society,” Baldwin wrote, “that spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being” (The Fire Next Time 7). How has the death toll of so many black children suggest an homage to the murder of those black children in 1963?

I’ve been doing some reading about the Oklahoma City Bombing as well as the Newtown school massacre and so far, no one has ever asked whether the hundreds of people mercilessly killed was “worth it;” instead, these deaths are mostly described as “senseless.” Biblical terms are not used in narrating the public message about these tragedies. The victims are not “martyrs” in some holy war against a hateful, homemade, homeland crime. The survivors haven’t been groomed to take measure of their loss through currency. “Is it worth it?” is a raced question that renders dead black children in the form of Isaac–despite the fact that Abraham didn’t kill him. Christians believe that God  sacrificed his son to redeem souls who would then receive the promise of everlasting life in Heaven. Believers weep in acknowledgement of that tremendous sacrifice. They try to better themselves and the world around them for the high price that Christ made on their behalf. Not a single parent whose child was killed on September 15, 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama was asked to sacrifice their child and not a single one of their children asked to be sacrificed. No global effort towards self-betterment or civic tribute has become gospel  in these here parts. The death of those children has not improved the lives of scores of black American children or poor, brown immigrant children facing certain death on their way back home. As Morrison’s Ella would have it, those four black girls and two black boys killed in Birmingham on that terrible Sunday died “bad” so they wont’t “stay in the ground.” Stamp Paid agreed. Morrison writes, “He couldn’t deny it. Jesus Christ Himself didn’t” and though he returned with a loving spirit, that may not be the rule, which is the point of Beloved as she returned with a vengeance.


Models Monday: Choosing Words, Building Worlds

Over the weekend, Miles had a play date with a former school buddy. We happened to see the five-year-old with his mom while out running errands earlier that week. I gave her my cell phone number and Saturday, she called. In arranging for them to play, I welcomed her into our home and thanked her for calling to arrange a time for the kids to play. In response the child’s mother said, “actually, I’m trying to get rid of him. I’m trying to do my hair because I start a new job on Monday.” My friend Raina has been telling me for years how parents will leave their child(dren) in your care even though you are a stranger to them. In this case, I think this mom feels that she knows me because she recognizes my face, but she doesn’t even know my last name (which is different from my son’s). She stepped into the dining room when she arrived, but felt that she didn’t need a tour of the place where her son would be staying; she just left. Hearing about this behavior from parents disturbed me, but seeing this experience up-close might best be described as frightening.
My mother was of the sort who would leave me in the care of any of her friends–especially if they had children and declared their love for kids. In fact, one of the reasons why I didn’t like going places with my mom was because of how presumptuous she was with respect to my need to be around other children. The myth that children without siblings are lonely is just that, a myth. As an only child, I was accustomed to being by myself and having space for myself and deciding for myself how this space would be used, not having this sovereignty marked my lack not the absence of company. The desire for “a room of [one’s] own” isn’t a cry for a population increase, but  an acknowledgement of how the presence of others can disturb and disrupt another’s need or desire for quiet and solitude. The years when my mother made decisions for me regarding my social calendar were my least happiest. My mother seemed completely oblivious to what can happen to children who are left to reign under other children’s rule.
While I mostly escaped from this unscathed, I am still marked by the violence I witnessed or was forced to navigate through without an advocate. For example, one of the families my mother left me with had two children my age, but we had nothing in common. She and the other women, her friends, left the house for who knows what, and in the interim the children’s stepfather came home. He started grabbing on the daughter and kissing her and feeling on her in a way that was far from normal. I can’t remember whether he took her upstairs or not, but I remember her misery; her begging him to leave her alone. Once he was exposed as a child molester, nothing happened. The wife did not divorce him, require that he undergo therapy, vacate the house. NOTHING. Years later, people tried to act like this story was complicated by the young woman’s use of her sexuality for profit. She became the black Lolita. Temptress. Jezebel. The person I saw squirming to get out of her stepfather’s clutches was defeated. Strong, empowered women don’t plead for their release from another’s firm grip.
The woman who left her son with us on Saturday offered an invitation for Miles to visit her home on Sunday. Despite the fact that I never talked about my son as though he were trash, she presumed I did. She was wrong. There is no way I would leave my five-year-old son in unfamiliar territory to fend for himself. I have never met this woman’s husband, her 19-year-old son, or her middle school aged daughter and this woman thinks I would leave my son in their care? At their mercy? While I certainly think  my son precocious, I also know that even this very term depends on age to define it: Men aren’t precocious, boys are. Boys do not have the authority to determine the landscape they inhabit or the power to control it’s governing.
You wouldn’t know how powerless children are by the way their parents discuss their lives. This woman who left her youngest child with virtual strangers, did so under the auspices of her son’s wants and persistent requests. My son’s stated requests do not overrule our decisions or authority. Unlike our parents, we do recognize that our son is not our duplicate. We depend on our powers of analysis and our understanding of the world and the violence done to children in this world to inform the choices we make on his behalf. If this woman would speak of her son in the same terms you would use to describe waste management, I can’t believe that she’d do better in naming my son.

Models Monday: Now I Get It

I think people know who she is so I'll skip the intro.
I think people know who she is so I’ll skip the intro.

I have heard Beyonce’s “Who Run the World (Girls)” before. I have probably seen her perform it on one Youtube video or another, but when I saw her perform that song on HBO last night I came to a new understanding regarding its soundness. Thus, I know why I’m so tired now: I’m running the world but HR hasn’t adjusted my salary; my staff never comes to work; my personal staff–the nanny, the cook, and the driver are as invisible as my work staff. For all my power, I am tired.

I’ve been re-reading Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun, going through it very slowly and carefully. Around the time I put the play down, I began watching HBO’s Beyonce feature and so I think reading the two works so closely in time informed my new take on “women’s empowerment” campaigns. Though such campaigns are meant to inspire and renew the spirit of work that women actually do, “women’s empowerment” campaigns aren’t as powerful to me as the “mass meetings” held mostly in churches during the modern civil rights struggle. “Who Run the World” is rejuvenating but for what purpose? To go back to your same shitty job where you’re under-appreciated and underpaid? Can you imagine movements activists who walked for 381 days in response to segregated public transportation policies in Montgomery being motivated to continue their protest by being told “you run the world?” Certainly exploited black workers were largely responsible for performing the tasks that made success, education, and leisure possible for others but their world was circumscribed by the low value placed on their labor and with the weight of encounters with frequent indignities placed on their souls.

The setting for A Raisin in the Sun, specifically the Chicago apartment, reflects the dreary outcome of a certain kind of “running the world.” The Youngers represent generations of African American people who performed important work for others–raising their children, keeping their spaces clean and well maintained–for little pay. Chicago was one of the northern cities where black folk settled in an effort to search for a life with greater possibilities for employment, higher wages, safety from the lethal brutality of white supremacy in the South. Despite these motivations, the North was not necessarily a site of realized promise. As Lena Younger recalls her husband saying in despair, “[s]eem like God didn’t see fit to give the black man nothing but dreams […]” yet he does find some gratification in fatherhood (but even this is laced with the regret of his limited ability to provide them a better–easier, spacious, breezy–life). The Youngers’ home reflects the outcome of dreaming while black. In describing the staging, Hansberry writes:

The Younger living room would be a comfortable and well-ordered room if it were not for a number of indestructible contradictions to this state of being. Its furnishings are typical and undistinguished and their primary feature now is that they have clearly had to accommodate the living of too many people for too many years–and they are tired.

The room and its furnishings “are tired” just like the people. As Hansberry continues her description of the room, she pointedly declares that “[w]eariness has in fact, won in this room.” In order for these conditions to change, Mr. Younger had to die. The insurance policy created the possibility for the family to live in a house of their own. As some critics have pointed out, it’s hard to view this move optimistically when you recognize the lack of security the family has with keeping up the mortgage; when people in the community don’t want you there. Lack of hospitality during this time was no minor issue. For example, though Martin Luther King, Jr. did not start hosting serious protests in Chicago until the mid-1960s, this photograph of him is supposed to be of him being protected by supporters after being hit with a rock during a protest of housing segregation:

The Chicago Tribune has a wonderful gallery of photographs of King’s time in Chicago.

It is very difficult for me to distinguish support from aggression here (it reminds me of Stanley Foreman’s Pulitzer Prize winning photograph, “The Soiling of Old Glory” in this regard. In Foreman’s photograph of a busing protest in Boston, the white man holding the black man’s arms claims that he was trying to help the black man get out of the way from the white teen attempting to spear him with the American Flag). For the Youngers, moving into a white neighborhood wouldn’t merely mean they would be shunned, but the consequences could have been significant enough to count as lethal.

What this 1959 play does for my thinking of empowerment campaigns today is that it exposes how perfunctory they all seem. Popular forms of empowerment hold out “hope” and “dreams” as though they’re promises. My grandfather used to say, “you don’t get nothin’ from sleep but a dream.” For him, dreams were too intangible to be meaningful or substantive. A message of empowerment from my grandfather’s perspective suggests that dreaming is not going to get you too much. I agree with him. A more meaningful expression of empowerment, I think, is not so much to tell young people to “hope” and “dream,” but to plan, to read, and to strategize in order to aid the realization of the life/world you want for yourself and others. Without well-thought-out plans, an imagination, and the substantive preparation for realizing your vision, the best you’d get is the shaky future awaiting the Youngers and thus a world where the only thing your “running” leads to is weary furniture and frustrated, tired residents.




Wonderful, trenchant analysis. EMM


BiDil-pillBiDil (2005) is the trade name for isosorbide dinitrate/hydralazine, a heart medicine for Blacks. It is the first race-based prescription drug approved by the US government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In the 1980sDr Jay Cohn took two drugs that were no longer under patent, put them together and patented them as a heart medicine – not just for Blacks but for anyone. The FDA refused to approve it for general use: trials showed that on average it did not make much of a difference.

Cohn went back through the numbers from the trials and found that it did seem to help those who self-identified as Black. So he applied for a new patent: the very same drug but this time meant for Blacks.

Cohn licensed BiDil to NitroMed, a drug company, to carry out new trials and market it.

To persuade the FDA to allow new trials,

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“The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” Frederick Douglass

When I was a child, I had very petty reasons for being in the doldrums about the fourth of July. Basically my melancholy had everything to do with the menu my mother planned and the clothes she chose for me to wear. Every 4th, my mother would plan a menu that included barbecue ribs, cole slaw, deviled eggs, and plain potato chips. I don’t like any of those foods. It seemed to never occur to her to grill hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken; never thought about a fruit salad or vegetables. In addition, she would always buy me some red, white, and blue outfit that I was supposed to keep clean while I picked around the fat to find the meat on the ribs while also playing with cousins and friends.

As an adult, I plan my own menu for what I call “grilling holidays” and they don’t typically include anything my mother has on hers (except when my husband wants ribs). In the South though, grilling is not as big of a deal as it is in Cleveland, Ohio. Here, we can pretty much grill year round. Around “grilling holidays” in Cleveland, all I ever hear about are their plans for the day and of the details of that same menu that I still abhor. Then, I get asked about what we’re grilling and I have to go through the whole Southern thing with them. Maybe Southern natives have a different view of “grilling holidays,” but as a Mid-Western transplant, I can’t get with it.

Adulthood has also changed my philosophical, historical, and political views regarding the fourth of July. Frederick Douglass captures much of the sentiment that resonates with the substance of my thinking:

You can follow this PBS link for the full text of Douglass’s speech.

Thinking about Douglass today is relevant for thinking about the status of freedom as it exists in the United States since 1852. What is freedom to 7-year-old Tiana Parker who was sent home from school because of wearing dreadlocks? What is freedom to the African American women in the military whose natural hairstyles may become grooming infractions? What is freedom to black boys walking home from the store after buying Skittles and Iced Tea? What is freedom to 15-year-old Brenton Butler who went searching for a job in the morning only to be detained for six-months in jail for a crime he could not have committed? What is freedom to the American citizen who can love someone of the opposite sex but if they love someone of the same sex they lose the civil right to marry? For so many in the United States, to paraphrase Baby Suggs in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, “the only [freedom] you can have is the [freedom] you can imagine.”

RIP: Walter Dean Myers (1937-2014)


Before my dear friend Carmen introduced me to Walter Dean Myers and thus one of my son’s favorite books, The Blues of Flats Brown, my husband told me that his English teacher colleagues had assigned Monster and the kids loved it. At the time, I didn’t know Myers was the author, but it all makes sense now. Myers crafted characters through language that sounded familiar to me and places where I’m sure I had been.

I was very excited when he was named U.S. National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature from 2012-2013. I wrote a little bit about my delight in a Models Monday post titled “The Seduction of Reading.” 

I’ll definitely miss what Myers would’ve written next, but he left an impressive body of works that I look forward to reading with my son.


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