When generations look back at the history of this nation, they will ask questions? Like why is the story of this country so incomplete? Why do we know so little of what it truly meant to be enslaved? Or why did it take 156 years for us make Juneteenth a holiday? They will also ask tough questions too? Like why were people so scared of critical race theory? Or why were black women absent in leadership spaces in academia? Or better yet, why did they leave academia? Of course only time will tell, how our generation chooses to answer these questions but for today I want to dwell on excellence. That’s the story I want to leave for generations to come.
That the black women who remained focused on being excellent. Even those that left did the same. We did so knowing that our efforts may not be praised or celebrated. We did so staying true to our vision, our sanity, and what matters first to us. We did so lifting others as we climbed. We did so because we knew that through us, our humanity, our presence will reverberate for generations to come. We did so knowing that our lives, and those of our children’ children matter. Which is why I want to keep Clef Club in mind for any woman, black woman in academia today.
In 1912 James Reese Europe (what a name by the way) and his Clef Club orchestra made musical history by performing at Carnegie Hall on the 12th of May. It was a remarkable orchestra raved the critics. One splendid in its rhythm, swing, power and singing of its gifted members. Their goals: ‘to preserve music of the Colored Race,’ the only musical production led by Black people at that time. Not only were they bold, the choose to be daring at a time when there were no others. That’s how I liken being black and a woman in academia. You are bold. Chances are you will go along this journey alone. As you go, be daring in your swing and temperament. Do everything with pride knowing you are a leader, an innovator and you will doubtless grow to become the necessary light destined to lead people to higher grounds. Your boldness will transform lives. Clef Club did so in 1912 against all odds. You can do it today you bold and beautiful black woman in academia. ( Ref; The Black Book).