Weeks before the pandemic hit our country, I attended a reenactment of Harriet Tubman by professional storyteller and griot Janice Curtis Greene. Days afterward, I posted a story on SowtheHeart.com about her performance called Portrayal of the Praiseworthy.
When Ms. Greene allowed me to take some photos for my website, she may not remember it because I was just one among many other attendees, I said to her, “I hope our paths cross again someday.” I was so taken with her ability to bring the audience right into the story.
Well, our paths crossed once again the other evening at Liriodendron Mansion. This time, she returned for the reenactment of Rosa Parks: One Person Can Change the World. After another fabulous performance, there was time for a session of Q & A. She was asked, “What, as a storyteller, does it mean to you to be able to relate these stories of notable people in our country’s history?” I listened deeply to her powerful response with my heart. Tears unexpectedly streamed down my face. It was as if I was standing in front of Fanny, the star in my award-winning memoir, and I was hearing Fanny’s untold story of how she lived less valued, as a person of color.
When I went to bed that night, I prayed that when Fanny’s time on this earth ended, I hope she knew just how very precious she was to our family. My brothers, my sister and I would not have been the same people without her presence in our lives for nearly forty years. She is at the heart and soul of many of our stories, still to this day, in our household. There is not a member of our family who would dispute my words when I say “the fabric of our family was greatly enriched by her and her spirit has been tightly woven into each and every one of us.”
God Bless you, Janice Curtis Greene for making it your mission, for the past thirty years, to tell the stories of freedom fighters for racial justice who came before you.
And a word about the sponsors of the Rosa Parks: One Person Can Change the World program. “The Dresher Foundation is an organization that explores the interests and influences of Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly. Liriodendron was home to this world-renowned surgeon, naturalist, philanthropist, and author, and one of the founders of Johns Hopkins Medical School and Hospital. Dr. Kelly was a champion of women’s suffrage.”