Wednesday, November 14, 2018

African American Veterans Monument WNY

On November 9, 2018, I attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the African American Veterans Monument.  The memorial will be built in the Buffalo & Erie County Navel and Military Park with construction scheduled to begin in the spring of 2019.   It will be a tribute to all African American veterans who served in all military branches from the Revolutionary War to the present.  The monument will hold the distinction of being the first of its kind in the United States.

When the call went out to the community for opportunities to purchase an engraved commemorative brick in the memory of a loved one, I considered it an honor to be able to make two purchases.  One for my father, PFC Willis B. Williams (1929-2011), who served during the Korean Conflict.  The other for my uncle, Sargent Arthur Brown (1927-1986), who served during WWII. 

Renditions of the planned African American Veterans Memorial in Buffalo NY

Monday, November 12, 2018

My NABS (National Association of Black Storytellers) Addiction -- The Voice of Black Storytelling

I caught the NABS bug in 2004 and since that time I have almost consistently attended the National Association of Black Storytellers Festival and Conference.  In 2011 my daughter started going with me and with the exception of 2017 in Wichita, she's attended every year since her first Festival.  In addition to hearing some good storytelling, we take the opportunity to do a personal tour of whatever city the Festival is being held, focusing on Black history sites.

NABS is the old-fashioned church camp meeting and family reunion rolled into one. Storytellers and attendees travel from all over the country (even beyond) and each year the Festival is held in a different location.  Workshops and storytelling feed attendees/participants in universal, deep-rooted ways with presentations ranging from personal stories to historical stories to Brer animal stories to Anansi stories to everything in-between.

Mother Mary Carter Smith and Mama Linda Goss co-founded the Association of Black Storytellers in November 1984 to share, recognize and preserve the African and African American Oral Tradition.  The Association was incorporated in 1990 and became known as the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. (NABS). The festival is now known as the National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference. (from the NABS website

NABS is the Authentic Voice of Black Storytelling.

After years of attending the NABS Festival, I accepted the call to serve as Board member and National Secretary.  The love of NABS inspired me to serve.

November 2014 induction ceremony during the Membership Meeting at the 32nd annual Festival held in Chicago, Illinois.  My term as the national secretary began on January 1, 2015.  

Esteemed storyteller and Elder Baba Jamal Koram swearing in new NABS Board members Janice Curtis Greene, Gwen Hilary, Steven Hobbs and Sandra Williams Bush
Making a statement on why I accepted Board position

Presentation of the Gold Life Membership plaque by NABS 15th President Saundra Gilliard, November 2018.  My love for NABS inspired me to financially"put up or shut up"

The last time my name tag will reflect my position as NABS Board member and Secretary, November 2018

With Executive Director Vanora Legaux and President-elect Janice Curtis Greene (Board members) at the 36th annual NABS Festival in Cary NC, November 2018

Souvenir book covers reflect the NABS Festivals that I have attended to date.

22nd - 2004 New Orleans
23rd - 2005 Tampa FL
25th --2007 Atlanta
27th - 2009 Little Rock AR
28th - 2010 Minneapolis

29th - 2011 Atlanta
30th - 2012 Baltimore
31st --  2013 Hampton VA

32nd --  2014 Chicago

32nd --  2015 Washington DC
34th --  2016 Philadelphia
35th --  2017 Wichita 

2018 Festcover smaller
36th - 2018 Cary NC

Monday, January 29, 2018

O Christmas Tree

I continue to get real trees for Christmas in honor of my father, Willis B. Williams, who always brought home the perfect tree.  Selecting a tree is now a tradition between me and my daughter.

Growing up I don't remember a time when we didn't have a Christmas tree -- and they were always taller than Daddy, who was 6-ft tall.  Sometimes we didn't have a tree until Christmas Eve when they were given out free at some places -- but Christmas was always a festive time in my family. My brothers and I helped my Mom decorate the tree and Daddy put up lights in the windows and decorated the outside of our house in Buffalo NY.

While we had a fireplace, mantel and chimney at our home, I don't remember waiting or looking out for Santa Claus. I do remember trying not to sleep so we could get to our presents at the first morning light and I do remember being told to go back to bed on occasion.  We did get presents labeled from Santa that were from our "grandparents",  Deety and Popoo. Those were the presents we opened first because they were always toys.

I love the smell of a real tree and the memories it brings.  I don't have heirloom ornaments. What I do have are these seven very special ornaments made by my daughter, Libby (Elizabeth), throughout her elementary years.  Each always get a prime spot on my tree.  As long as I'm able I'll continue getting real trees even though I sweep up pine needles well into spring --  because there's nothing like the smell and the memories!