Continuing MLK's Dream of Economic Empowerment

The dignity of the individual will flourish when the decisions concerning his life are in his own hands…and when he knows that he has the means to seek self-improvement.
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is a proud day for our nation as we celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Obama in his second term and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. 

Lesser-known of Dr. King's dreams was his dream of economic empowerment as central to the advancement of people of color. In fact, the famous speech he made the night before his assassination referencing the "Promised Land" of equality rallied protesters in Memphis in support of a local sanitation workers' union. 

Southern Journeys carries Dr. King's dream in our hearts and minds as we work towards making opportunities for and improving the lives of our families and communities. We will get to the Promised Land if, as President Obama invoked in his speech this morning, we work together to build a nation that recognizes and fights for the equality of opportunity for every American.

 Dr. King advancing economic empowerment

Dr. King advancing economic empowerment

 President Obama swearing on MLK's Bible as he takes the inaugural oath

President Obama swearing on MLK's Bible as he takes the inaugural oath

 History colliding: Barack and Martin

History colliding: Barack and Martin

Wishing you and yours a happy MLK Day,

SJ

Holidays with SJ: Part 4

Even though we have been counting down the days with a little help from Dorothea, Priscilla, and Fannie, we cannot believe that Christmas is less than a day away. We are concluding the Holidays with SJ series with this nostalgic interview from Alice of Southern Journeys:

 Alice of Southern Journeys

Alice of Southern Journeys

What does the holiday spirit mean to you?

It means family, worship, thanksgiving, sharing, having Christmas meals, parties and gathering with family and friends, going to Church, listening to the Messiah, joy, fellowship, peace and love...celebrating the true meaning of Christmas...without the fanfare of the world.

What are your favorite childhood holiday memories?

One of my favorite memories of Christmas was receiving a black doll when I was about four, five maybe six years old at the most. The dolls I had before had been rag dolls, but this one had a porcelain face and when you set the baby down, it would cry or if you pressed the hand, it'd make noises. I loved that doll. That was one of my favorite gifts.

Another favorite memory was finding all these apples and oranges and raisins and nuts like Brazil nuts, walnuts (we had pecans in our area so those wouldn't be special), and colorful candy. It'd come in a package all boxed up and it would come at the foot of your bed. This was special and a tradition that my mother continued even when we realized that there was no Santa.  I was pretty young when I realized there was no Santa Claus. We'd sneak up to the attic and play with the toys before Christmas and then put them back in the attic. When my mom realized that that we were doing that, she said, "OK, no more Santa Claus for you." But of course, she'd still leave us goodies at the foot of our bed.

Another memory is the smell of all the tasty food my mother would cook for the Christmas holidays.  I learned while kind of young how to make different kinds of candy and cookies so these were special treats I enjoyed making. 

I also like decorating the doors of our house and my grandparents' home with berries and other plants that my brothers and I found in the woods on our farm.  I'd tie these decorations with red scarfs my mother would sew.

 Brazil nuts, pecans, and walnuts under a Christmas tree. Photo credit: 123rf.com

Brazil nuts, pecans, and walnuts under a Christmas tree. Photo credit: 123rf.com

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Having a Christmas cantata at church or school when I was younger and as I got older, we'd go down to a presentation of the Messiah by a church choir. 

What is your favorite holiday song? Holiday movie?

I really enjoy the songs in the Messiah. We play that at family gatherings throughout this time of year so that one is one of my favorites. (Below is a heartwarming video of a choir surprising a food court with their rendition of Handel's Hallelujah chorus.) My favorite holiday movie of the last ten or twelve years is Les Miz - I want to see the one coming this year but it's not going to be in my area soon. My husband probably won't mind that he doesn't like that kind of thing (laugh).

What do you want for the holidays?

I want success for the Obama administration trying to reach its goals and bring America back to where it needs to be and where it can be. For myself, I'd like better vision. I've been having some problems with one of my eyes. So I just want for my eyes to get better.  I want to spend time with family and friends at Christmas Day dinner and other holiday gatherings, and at church.  My hope is that all of our needs will be met.

What would it mean to you for someone to receive something Southern Journeys made for the holidays?

It means a lot. That we're able to produce something that people really want. That they know that you put something special in producing these items for them. 

 Alice (second from left) enjoying a holiday meal with Southern Journeys

Alice (second from left) enjoying a holiday meal with Southern Journeys

 Fannie and Alice of Southern Journeys, a fitting picture to close this holiday series

Fannie and Alice of Southern Journeys, a fitting picture to close this holiday series

This concludes our Holidays with SJ series. We hope the experiences shared here give you a better idea of the people behind our products.  We send peace, love and tidings of great joy. Merry Christmas Eve to you and those you hold dear.

- SJ

Holidays with SJ: Part 3

So far in our Holidays with SJ feature, we have reminisced about the holidays with Dorothea and Priscilla of Southern Journeys. Now Fannie would like to share with you how she spends her holidays.

 Fannie of Southern Journeys

Fannie of Southern Journeys

What does the holiday spirit mean to you?

The holiday means a lot to me because of my religious beliefs. When I was a child, I used to think of the holidays as lights and gifts but now that I'm older, my religious beliefs make me think of Christmas as more about Christ's birth.

What are your favorite childhood holiday memories?

My favorite childhood holiday memories were when we used to open our gifts on Christmas morning. Another favorite memory was trying to find the gifts before Christmas, playing with our gifts and putting them back before our parents could notice, and being "surprised" on Christmas morning.

 Fannie's favorite Christmas meal. Photo Credit: dannybuoys.com

Fannie's favorite Christmas meal. Photo Credit: dannybuoys.com

What is your favorite holiday song? Holiday movie?

My favorite movie is A Christmas Carol with Ebenezer Scrooge and my favorite song is Silent Night by the Temptations. 

What do you want for the holidays?

This year we've had some illnesses in the family. This year I just want everyone to be well and happy. Gifts don't really matter much this year.

What would it mean to you for someone to receive something Southern Journeys made for the holidays?

It's wonderful. It's just like making gifts for family members. And the thrill of seeing someone use something that you made. I think it's great. I'm just wishing everyone a happy holidays. I hope we make a lot of sales - Christmas and the New Year's. 

 Fannie (left) and Jessie sewing for Southern Journeys

Fannie (left) and Jessie sewing for Southern Journeys


How do you celebrate the holidays? We'd love to hear from you in the comments below and on our social media pages!

Want to hear more about the women behind Southern Journeys? Subscribe to our blog and enjoy upcoming holiday interviews and more. 

Wishing you very happy holidays,

- SJ

Holidays with SJ: Part 2

Now that Dorothea has kicked off our Holidays with SJ feature with a festive start, let's keep the spirit going as we turn our attention to Priscilla and learn how she spends the holidays: 

 Priscilla of Southern Journeys

Priscilla of Southern Journeys

What does the holiday spirit mean to you?

I am very thankful that I have lived long enough to enjoy the real spirit of Christmas and that is the blessings of our risen Christ and His promise of eternal life to believers. It means that I can share the joyous occasion with my family and friends and know that I am celebrating the birth of Jesus and not get caught up in the “Hype”. It wasn’t always like that. I used to get all caught up in shopping for gifts, having to find that last minute gift and planning those big southern meals. So in a word: Blessed.

What are your favorite childhood holiday memories?

Wow! There aren’t many that I can recall being that it was nothing like the children of today- my “grands” included. We were very poor, but happy because the whole neighborhood was in the same boat. I was a happy child and am now a very happy adult and back then,  according to my mom, wise beyond my years because I never worried my parents about what I was going to get- I was just glad that I got something.

However, I do have a favorite and it still brings a smile to my face. I don’t know at what age I was at the time, but anyway, children of my generation played outside a lot and inside only when the weather was inclement. So on one of those inside days I was going to play under my bed---and what do I discover? A beautiful doll in a box. I was so happy because I don’t remember asking for one. (We used to make dolls using the six-ounce bottles of coca cola and ice strings. That’s another story). After finding the doll under the bed, every day when no one was aware I would go under the bed and play with my doll being very careful not to get her dirty. I did this for about a week and on Christmas morning I was just as excited as though I had not seen the doll before.

I was so glad to see how happy my mom was that I was so excited. She lived to see me and my children get grown and get gifts for them. Just recently they were talking about two particular stuffed animals that she gave them, which I still have in storage. My oldest son is 43.

 Vintage black doll. Photo courtesy of www.franshouseofdollsandtoys.com

Vintage black doll. Photo courtesy of www.franshouseofdollsandtoys.com

What are some holiday traditions in your family?

My family holiday tradition is just that- “traditional." We go to a designated family member home and on Christmas morn we get up very early and watch the youngest children open their gifts-then we exchange gifts. Laugh, talk, and enjoy being together. Later we watch family oriented movies and eat too much. Take the children outside if they have outside toys.

If we are at my home, we talk about the decorations on the tree because I still use the things that my kids made when they were children. I still put them on my tree. Now their children are able to talk about the ornaments that their parents made as kids. Kids don’t do much of that in schools anymore. When I am visiting one of my three children at Christmas-we still do the same thing-minus the old decorations, because I leave them at my house.

What is your favorite holiday song or movie?

My favorite carol is “Silent Night” My favorite movie is “The Preacher’s Wife”. I had watched it so much until the children hid the tape on one of their visits - they always had to watch it along with whatever movies we watched. I found it again last year and am now waiting to see if it’s on DVD.

What do you want for the holidays this year?  

To be peaceful and remember to be very thankful.

What does it mean for you that people are receiving gifts that you have made for SJ?

It means that we are making someone’s wish come true or that someone is getting nice handmade gifts from Southern Rural Black Women who are very proud of their heritage and the work we do and the struggles and challenges we have met.

 Priscilla (second from left) sharing a holiday meal with the ladies of Southern Journeys

Priscilla (second from left) sharing a holiday meal with the ladies of Southern Journeys

 Priscilla sewing for Southern Journeys

Priscilla sewing for Southern Journeys


How do you make the season bright? Share with us in the comments below and on our social media pages!

Liked this story? Subscribe to our blog and enjoy holiday insights from more women of Southern Journeys. 

- SJ

The Journey Begins

We are proud to continue the legacy of Southern Rural Black Women through our work and preserve traditions for future generations through our stories.

We look forward to sharing our Southern Journeys with you and thank you for standing with us.

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