Welcome! I started Bringing Words to Life in 1996 to use the language arts and elements of theatre as a way of encouraging middle school and high school aged students to become strong readers, creative-critical thinkers and socially conscious writers willing and able to give back to the national and global community leaving the world a better place than it was when each of them arrived.
Since then, I’ve expanded its reach to include the importance of knowing your history, high self-esteem and the ability to empathize with people from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Following in the footsteps of my slave, Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement ancestors, I use the arts as a tool to speak out against injustice and for a more just, inclusive society where all are valued and welcome. My work is grounded in love for all people and for the last sixteen years I’ve worked through my own biases, fears and prejudices and have learned to practice the Golden Rule daily. Now I facilitate programming that helps others explore their inner selves as the first step towards what Michael Jackson argues for in his music: “If you wanta make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change!"
The purpose of this website is to provide a comprehensive, user friendly way for people interested in knowing more about my work to check out the programming I offer which includes: Empathy-driven workshops for professionals in the fields of education, social work, counseling, healthcare and other areas which serve people from different ethnic/racial, gender, class, religious and sexual backgrounds, self-esteem workshops for teenaged girls and women, social issues theatre, as well as programming designed to fit the needs of my clients.
The links at the top of this home page will take you to various pertinent areas and includes a link with a comprehensive Resume of my life’s work to date. I’ve worked hard to establish a reputation for excellence and am looking forward to hearing from you if something I offer is of interest.
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” Sidartha Guatama (Founder of Buddhism)
Enjoy your journey.
“The 7 Modern Sins: Politics without principles, Pleasures without conscience, Wealth without work, Knowledge without character, Industry without morality, Science without humanity, Worship without sacrifice.”
Canon Frederic Donaldson
“I want a busy mind, a just life, and a timely death.”
Zora Neal Hurston
“Free your mind and your ass will follow.”
George Clinton and the Funkadelics
When I think about education, I can’t write a poem. Somehow metaphor, simile, imagery all the literary devices used to make something sound better fall away and I’m left with a lump in my throat, a faster beating heart, tears. Being reminded of the empowering force of a free-thinking and feeling open mind takes me back to all of the conversations I had with Grandpa who had to drop out of school in the 8th grade because he couldn’t see, it was during the depression so his father was working for food, and grandpa needed to work too to help the family. Grandpa thought that with enough common sense as a foundation nothing was more important than a good education: not money, not the things you buy with it, not fame.
I think about all the mornings mama got up at the crack of dawn to earn sub-pay at the local laundry, burns up both arms like tattoos from the hot dryers, sore feet and sweated out hair from spending her days washing other peoples’ clothes.
When I think about education I think about the two teachers I had who told me I was a poet, that I could do anything I set my mind to, that I could fly if I wanted to. I think about the other teachers who’ve become one memory I try to forget—the ones who told me I couldn’t speak proper English, who ignored my constantly raised curious hand, the few who gave me lower grades I didn’t earn.
When I think about education I think about ancestors who lost their lives, were beaten, and maimed for learning to read and write, all of the things my ancestors went without in the south after slavery time to build their own schools, some promising wages they hadn’t earned, all the little money they had, freedom labor.
I think about the Little Rock Nine; nine Black students who faced down government officials, the Klan, violence and hatred to integrate an Arkansas school for a chance at an un-separate and equal education. I think about the fact that the majority of urban public schools are re-segregated today. Why?
When I think about education, I think about all of the future educators in this room. Choosing the path of any aspect of education is like becoming part of a huge sacred trust.
Except instead of property, you’ll have an opportunity to influence the rich minds and emotions of people. Educators are directly involved in all other disciplines, professions, and trades because everyone who learns to do anything learns to do it with our help.
This means it’s important to give this opportunity your best effort. To learn the value of empathy, compassion, love, and social justice so you can help facilitate this development in the people you will encounter. Too often people focus on economic power; the power of owning and controlling everything. But unlike education, economic power can be lost, usurped, and taken away. Unlike owning things owning your own mind is a forever love affair that doesn’t end until your physical self moves on to what Brother Najee calls “its next transition.” A free mind guides a free spirit; a consciousness able to interpret the world from a position of intelligence.
Education is freedom. Educators are like the guides through the Underground Railroad. We help build communities of learners using mutual respect, reciprocal learning, caring, and sharing as the code words of the song we sing over and over; our mantra, an ongoing always-learning, labor of love that uses everything we know to inspire others to think using their imagination and intellect. To learn all they can, about all they can, whenever they can. To pass it on like my ancestors moved from secret place to secret place, risking everything for one of the most important things worth pursuing.
"I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very, very sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all possible means—except by getting off his back."
Each of you represents the future of education. Become part of a movement that started centuries ago in the Americas, and around the world—the movement for freedom for all people. As educators I hope you’ll use your intellectual power to help get those who have colonized the world off of the back of the oppressed, the have nots, the folk at the bottom of the bottom. All races, ethnicities, and classes of people deserve a chance at reaching
what the singing group the Temptations called “the unreachable stars” of their own life dreams.
"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson