Miss Tina and her beautiful daughters gave us great interviews throughout the month of January that led me to reflect on own upbringing.
Solange's recent interview for Interview Magazine where her sister, Beyonce talks with her about the inspiration behind her hit album "A Seat At The Table" resonated with me like their albums, "Lemonade" and "A Seat At The Table."
Like the Knowles sister's, I too grew up in a home filled with black art, history, and culture all around me.
Black art was (still is) on every wall, coffee table, and bookshelf.
A Signed Print of By Varnette Honeywood
I grew up in an upper-middle-class black community in the suburbs of Atlanta (Stone Mountain). Atlanta has long been known for being the "Black Mecca" where professional African American's come to succeed. Growing up around thriving black professionals is why myself, and many of my childhood friends have gone on to have successful careers in finance, entrepreneurship, medicine, and creative industries like film and art.
As a young lady, I remember attending the readings of Maya Angelou, taking in Alvin Ailey's ballet's at the Fox Theatre, and waiting outside for hours to witness Muhammid Ali carry the Olympic Torch at the 1996 Olympics. At the time, I didn't understand the importance of being exposed to prominent black figures, but as an adult I am grateful.
Each year, our family would attend the Black Arts Festival in Piedmont Park. When we would attend the festival, the only thing that excited me was the snacks, but as I got older, I began to see the beauty in art.
In 1992, my parents bought me my first piece of artwork.
I remember that moment like it was yesterday. Although, I don't remember the artists' name I remember how thrilled I was that he signed the piece for me. He wrote, "The world is for you to have."
When I was searching for inspiration for our "You Made It" graduation card what he had written to me in 1992 gave me the burst of inspiration I needed. Who knew my first piece of art would inspire a card for Mae B nearly 23 years later?
Miss Tina reminds me a lot of my mom. As I hear Miss Tina say, “I’ve always been proud to be black. Never wanted to be nothing else" on the track "Tina Taught Me" it reminds me of my mom's attitude about black pride.
My mom is an educator by profession. She also has been my teacher for as long as I can remember. I didn't learn about the Egyptians, the transatlantic slave trade, and the civil rights movement from the history books at school. She taught me about those moments in time.
My mom read my sister and I Maya Angelou, took us to see Gordon Park photography and made sure we learned about the civil rights movement beyond Black History Month. We read the book "I Dream A World" front to back because mom wanted us to the black women that had changed and were changing the world (that book still sit on the coffee table in our family home).
I now understand how my upbringing brought me to Mae B. It wasn't until I read Miss Tina's New York Times article and Solange's Interview Magazine article that I saw the bridge between Mae B and my childhood.
Much like Beyonce and Solange, I had women in my life that reminded me every day to hold my head high as a black woman.
I am forever grateful to my mom who raised me to love my black heritage and my grandmother Mae who helped me love my deep brown skin.
It is now my turn to continue the tradition through Mae B.
Happy Black History Month!