Black History Bootcamp - GirlTrek

 
Join GirlTrek's Black History Bootcamp by filling out the form below.

Over the next month, we will walk through Black history together celebrating our powerful foremothers each day. They blazed a trail for us.

Sign up below for this special #daughtersof walking challenge and each day, we will email you an inspiring Black history story, a playlist, a secret code to join a fun phone conversation with thousands of women during your solo walk, and sister-accountability to keep going the full 21 days. GirlTrek is always free and open to everyone. Who’s with us!?

If you are new to the movement or this is your first challenge, we are 1 woman closer to 1 Million strong by 2020 because of you. You have officially joined the ranks of 650,000+ Black women committed to reclaiming holistic lives rooted in wellness and radical self-care.
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Day 21: Octavia Butler

Posted by – June 30, 2020

 
 

To survive
Let the past
Teach you-
Past customs,
Struggles,
Leaders and thinkers.
Let
These
Help you.
Let them inspire you,
Warn you,
Give you strength.
But beware:
God is change.
Past is past.
What was
Cannot
Come again..

To survive,
know the past.
Let it touch you.
Then let
The past
Go.
 - Octavia E. Butler  
 

You did it. You completed the first edition of GirlTrek’s Black History Bootcamp. Congratulations. The ancestors would be proud to see what you’ve done over the past 21 days. This was more than a walking challenge. This was an international mass healing event that brought more than 120,000+ Black women together to call the names of our foremothers in unison. With each story, we were able to remember that, as Alice Walker says, we were not the first to suffer, rebel, fight, love, or die. Our line stretches all the way back to Shirley and Zora, to Ella Jo and Angela X. Each step that we took was a ceremony to honor their sacrifices, a coronation filled with laughter and tears as we imagined what it was like to walk in the footsteps of these ordinary Black women called to do extraordinary things.
 
Now, as we close out this series, and prepare for the next (yes, sis there is more of this goodness to come) we end not by looking back, but by looking forward as we examine the life and legacy of the extraordinary writer, Octavia Butler, a Black woman who dared to imagine a future that centered Blackness and the voices and experiences of Black women.  The invitation into her sci-fi world was an invitation for all of us to think beyond the drab expectations of a cruel reality that does not see our magic or power,  to create a future that makes space for all of our glorious gifts to be on full display. 

 

Day 20: Ruby Dee

Posted by – June 29, 2020

 
 

Ruby Dee was the zeitgeist of Black womanhood.  She was our Ruth in Raisin in the Sun, our Queen in Roots, our Mother-Sister in Do the Right Thing, our Mama Lucas in American Gangster.  Ruby Dee's face, her soulful voice, her spirited laughter is the very epitome of Black cinema. 

Her Hollywood career was phenomenal but life painted an even more brilliant story.  She was an activist.  A forceful member of CORE, SNCC, NAACP, Urban League, AND Delta Sigma Theta.  Harlem through and through, Ruby was for us, by us.  She was in it - the anti-lynching legislation, the demand for Paul Robeson's passport, anti-war protests, labor campaigns, the Black Arts movement..she was a leader in the campaign to "Free Angela," she'd personally planned a party to unite Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. two weeks before Malcolm was murdered...and just take a moment to watch this video of her reading the names of Black lives taken by the police after 21-year olds Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were murdered in their home. At 77 years old, when Amadou Diallo was killed, Ruby Dee and her family protested in front of 1 Police Plaza in NYC until she was arrested. 

 

Day 19: Mamie Till-Mobley

Posted by – June 29, 2020

 
 

“Let the people see what I have seen.” Mamie Till-Mobley launched a movement with those words, insisting on an open casket funeral for her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, who was brutally murdered by two white men in Mississippi. That strategic decision, and the decision to publish graphic photos from the funeral in Jet magazine, galvanized the country and forced the world to finally make eye contact with the horrors being inflicted on Black people, especially throughout the American South.
 
Mamie Till-Mobley was an ordinary Black woman who used her darkest hour to shine a light on injustice and mobilize the masses, and for that, we celebrate her legacy on day 19 of Black History Bootcamp.

 

Day 18: Dovey Johnson Roundtree

Posted by – June 29, 2020

 
 

The original Olivia Pope. 

1964 was a year of seething racial tension. The country was torn apart. Amid that tension, a white woman was murdered on her morning walk in a Washington, DC park. The police arrested a poor Black man two miles away.  It became the most sensational trial in history. Newspapers were consumed with finding her murderer. She was white. She was wealthy. She was a socialite. She was executed in broad daylight. And she was the girlfriend of John F. Kennedy, the President of the United States of America. 

Dovey Johnson Roundtree was on the case.  She offered to defend the accused man for one dollar. Under the eye of a nation, she litigated the salacity of race, class, power, and privilege with a masterful defense: Truth. She stunned the world. 

And won. 

That was just one moment in her 104-year life as a justice crusader. 

(Shoutout to Renee in Columbus, Ohio for teaching us about Ms. Roundtree.)

 

Day 17: Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Posted by – June 29, 2020

 
 

Do you mean to tell us that Rock-n-Roll was invented by a queer Black woman who got her roots singing gospel in the Church of God In Christ? Somebody hand me a church fan because I am about to faint after digging into the juicy details of the life of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the trailblazing, electric guitar playing, Godmother of Rock, and the woman who we will learn about and celebrate on day 17 of Black History Bootcamp.

 

Day 16: Stagecoach Mary

Posted by – June 29, 2020

 


Day 16

 


If John Henry has a folk song this woman needs one too! 

Introducing Stagecoach Mary a.k.a. Mary Fields a.k.a. Black Mary.

At 60-years old she was the fastest person - man or woman - in the state of Montana to hitch a team of six horses to a coach.  She was the first Black woman to earn a US Postal Service contract.  She drove that team of horses for eight years, through rough and wild territories of the West.  In the winter, the snow was so deep that she’d leave the horses behind and carry-on with the mail on her back. She never missed a day. Not a single day.  She carried a shotgun to demand respect.  She once got kicked out of a Catholic convent for using it.  When the law banned women from drinking in saloons, she got an exception from the mayor.  

“I fight through rainstorms...snowstorms ...risk hurricanes and tornadoes. I like to be rough. I like to be rowdy. I also like to be loving ...caring."  We are the daughters of hard and soft. ...that edge hitting a soft breeze.  We are electric.  The storm of possibility.  Like the clap of Juneteenth in the middle of a global meltdown.  Like the swirl and swagger of Mary Fields. 

"I do bold and exciting things," she confessed. 

Cheers foremother.  Cheers!

(She needs her own folk song.)

Day 15: Ida B. Wells

Posted by – June 29, 2020

 


Day 15

 


Most of the world seemed to need an 8:46 video of a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd to be convinced that Black Lives Matter. Now just imagine being Ida B. Wells, a Black journalist and anti-lynching crusader working at the height of southern rage in the South, with only a pencil and paper, trying to convince people of the exact same thing. Just imagine how dogged and determined this woman had to be as an investigative reporter, on a mission to tell the truth and seek justice for her community. Now also imagine that white America is saying that the death of George Floyd was a “wake up call”. Even though Ida B. Wells, a Black woman so influential in her field that she was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2020, had been flawlessly writing about and lecturing about the experiences of men like George Floyd since she published her first pamphlet in 1892.

"Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." 
 
How much do you know about the illustrious career of Ida B. Wells and the work that she did to educate the masses about the terror that Black men and women have been experiencing in this country for centuries?

On day 15 of Black History Bootcamp we will dive into the work and life of this powerful truth-teller.

Day 14: Angela X

Posted by – June 26, 2020

 


Day 14

 

Why hasn’t someone made this into a movie!?


Angola is the huge country below the equator on the west coast of Africa. That’s where it all started. ...ground zero for the transatlantic slave trade. White missionaries, greed, exploitative trade, tech advances that made exploration by sea possible, a massive need for labor and yes, tribal wars. It was the perfect storm for the greatest crime in human history, the capture, sale, and violent exportation of our ancestors.

Yes, and we know that the first enslaved Africans arrived in America 400 years ago, in 1619. The next part is not as well known.

20 or so Africans were the first to walk on American soil. They were survivors. They survived wars on the continent. They survived a 70-mile walk down the Kwanza River. They survived the humiliation of baptism and branding by Catholic traders of enslaved people. They survived the dungeons, the canoe ride to the ships, the months at sea, the sickness, filth, violence, and murder. They survived the day that their Portuguese ship was jacked by British pirates in little-ass boats. They sailed to America and were sold on the shores of Hampton, Virginia.

They survived.

And one of those survivors was a woman named Angela.

They were the first.

Day 13: Lucille Clifton

Posted by – June 26, 2020

 

Day 13

Recently, when life has felt absolutely relentless and the cocktail of rage and exhaustion push our backs up against the wall, it’s the words of Lucille Clifton that have soothed like a cool balm. More than a poet, she was a wise elder who came to remind us of our transcendent power and brilliance as Black people. She lavished love on us all, but especially Black women. For that, and the things she taught us about resilience, reinventing yourself, and loving the Blackity Black skin you’re in, we celebrate her on day 13 of Black History Bootcamp.

Day 12: Eartha Kitt

Posted by – June 26, 2020

 
 

Day 12

It all happened at the White House. Lady Bird Johnson had invited 41 distinguished guests to a luncheon that centered on youth violence in inner cities. Eartha Kitt was one of seven Black women there. And with every clank of silver, unfurling of a napkin, and comment about beautifying the ghetto, I can imagine her blood boiled.

She was not ladylike.  She said, “I’m a dirt person. I don’t trust diamonds and gold.”  Eartha Kitt was born on a plantation in South Carolina. She was given away by her mother - unwanted. Sent to live with an aunt who tolerated her. Raised in abject poverty in Harlem. Often slept on subway cars to avoid violence at home. And here she sat that day in the White House, listening to speeches with easy “fixes” to the streets that raised her. 

Not today. 

It was her turn to speak.  She adjusted the mic, braced herself, then denounced the Vietnam War. She had spent her life advocating for Black children.  “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder these kids rebel." Then she turned to her hostess, "...and you have children of your own, Mrs. Johnson – we raise children and send them to war." Lady Bird Johnson burst into tears.

For her anti-war speech, Kitt was blacklisted in Hollywood for decades. She received death threats.  The CIA even planted a McCarthy-era dossier about her troubled family life.  It called her a “sadistic nymphomaniac.”  And that’s where they messed up. In resistance, she became an international sex symbol.  

 

 

GirlTrek
\gûrl-ˈtrek\
  • (v.) To lace up our sneakers and walk each day as a declaration of self-care!
  • (v.) To heal our bodies, inspire our daughters, and reclaim the streets of our neighborhoods.
  • (v.) To reestablish walking as a healing tradition in Black communities as tribute to those who walked before us.
  • (n.) A health movement organized by volunteers across America to inspire one million by 2020.