Go Tell Michelle African American Women

Go Tell Michelle African American Women


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



“Hi Daddy!” / the lil’ cinnamon girl  / with bouncing brown curls said / while twisting with excitement

 unable to stand still / certainly, unlike her sister / who was intent to stare straight ahead in amazement

as she inched closer and closer / to the technological screen displayed before her eyes

from “Crossings”



Go, Tell MichelleAfrican American Women Write to the New First Lady

Edited Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram

$17.95 Paperback – 275 pages Published book can be ordered on line now from Suny and will be ready on January 13, 14.

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Go, Tell Michelle Contributors


Latest Report

The French speaking magazine, Amina is available in France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Russia.  On the inside is a huge article by Barbara and me and some of the contributors and it is translated into French. Thought you might like to see this.   Peggy / Mon January 18, 2010

Go, Tell Michelle Comes to the Stage

On January 19th, we will make history when the dramatic adaptation of “Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady” comes to the stage at Allen Hall Theater at the University at Buffalo. Adapted and directed by Robert Knopf, chair of the University’s Theater and Dance Department, “Go, Tell Michelle: the Play” will feature three readers; Karima Amin, Peggy Brooks-Bertram and Barbara Seals Nevergold.

Brooks-Bertram, Seals Nevergold and Knopf were interviewed by local NPR station, WBFO-FM reporter, Eileen Buckley on January 11th. Listen to their interview by clicking on the link below: 

WBFO: Uncrowned Queens First Lady book hits the stage (2010-01-11)

Busboys and Poets    Go, Tell Michelle‏ Book Signing

Sat, March 28 / 4 PM (Langston Room) / 2021 14th St NW Washington, DC 20009

Good morning my friend.  I am in a Starbucks in the Hyatt Hotel in DC.  It was truly a grand occasion with Book TV at Bus Boys and Poets  yesterday.  It was  truly amazing.  We can find out tomorrow when the program will be aired nationally.  The place itself was crazy.  People everywhere.  Hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds sitting and using their laptops, chatting and buying books and coming to the book signing.  Extraordinary.  This is the scene to be on.  Five of the contributors to the book met us at Bus Boys and it was grand because we had never met them before.  so it was wondrous getting to se them for the first time.  We also met for the first time the woman who is planning a staged reading of the  letters and poems.  She is hoping for a theatre in DC  and for Mother’s Day in DC.  So many of the contributors are world travelers. It was so fascinating to be standing on the street corner outside of the venue talking to several of the contributors who have traveled the African Continent, spoke  several languages and had come in contact with or knew personally so many Black people from around the world.  These women were multi-lingual,  had been friends with President’s of States, civil rights leaders like Stokely Carmichael, and many, many others.  One contributor, Aza Brown, has only recently returned from Ethiopia where she received a great honor that she attributed to  the fact that she had contributed to this book, Go, Tell Mitchell.  The shuttle is pulling up and I must leave.  But I just wanted to update you on happenings.  Talk to you tomorrow morning.—Peggy 29 March 2009

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Ms. Henley Goes to Washington

At the request of the First Lady of the nation, Ms. Mary Henley of Richmond, Virginia was one of a group invited by the First Lady to attend the President’s first address before Congress.  This is not the first time Ms. Henley has met and talked with the First Lady.  The first time was on September 17, 2008 at the Richmond Convention Center where she attended an Economic Conference featuring Michelle Obama on the campaign trail for her husband. During the question and answer period, Ms. Henley stood next to the First Lady to tell her story of economic hardship for seniors nearing their eighties. 

A photo was taken of Ms. Henley and the now First Lady talking.  That photo is the bottom photo on the cover of the new book Go, Tell Michelle, African American Women Write to the New First Lady.  The co-editors and the contributors have been waiting with bated breath to receive word that the book dedicated to Ms. Obama had reached her hands.  Well we can all breathe a sigh of relief because Ms. Henley took her copy of the book to Washington, and had it signed by First Lady Michelle Obama with President Obama by her side. 

Yes she DID!  As a matter of fact, according to Ms. Henley, President Obama looked at the book and leafed through it and then passed it to Michelle Obama to sign.  We are waiting for a photo from Ms. Henley with the book standing beside Michelle Obama!  Now we know that the First Lady has seen the book and held it!  For now, one of our books has been seen and signed by the First Lady of the Nation.  We are ecstatic!  We are still working to have a meeting with the First Lady and the contributors to discuss the book and the GTM Sisterhood.  We will keep you posted.  Peggy (March 2, 2009)

Go, Tell Michelle Blog    Facebook Go, Tell Michelle

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Treasury of letters written by African American women to Michelle Obama.


“You are me. When I look at you, I see me. I see the young African American woman who, through good family values, strong roots, hard work, and perseverance, has come into her own … Though your journey may not be easy in the coming days, weeks, months, or years, think of us to ease your burden and pain. Think of those who you inspire. Think of those who you have given hope to. Think of those whom you have filled with pride. Think of your sister … Think of your favorite cousin. Think of your mother. Think of me. We are the same.”

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“To you Michelle I take off my African woman hat from Cameroon, my motherland. You have given us African women the courage and the hope to move on and up. You keep your head high and hold your husband close to your heart. Keep praying my sister, you are the best. You have lived the dream of every ebony woman. Ride on sister, we are with you.”

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“You are the song, you are the proverb, and you are the symbol of human dignity.”

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“When you and your family go to the spot under the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, where Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, you will take with you our history of dreams deferred; however, you will also take with you our prayers and hopes for an America that is ready to build and dream anew.”

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“Thank you for your courage to say yes, to step from behind your private veil into the public eye, to step forward with the grace of boldness, to carry a message that ‘Hope is a wise decision’ and also teaching the importance of learning to prepare oneself because with hope, things can change. I sat next to my daughter, praying that all women would tell this message to themselves, their daughters and sisters, nieces and neighbors, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, friends and sisterfriends, strangers and mates. But most of all, I thank you from the bottom of my heart to remind me to keep being hopeful so I can keep flapping my wings and not be afraid to fly.”

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“What I really want to say is thank you for existing and remaining visually the kind of woman I’ve always wanted to be. I’d given up hope. I’d given up hope that Black men could affectionately and passionately adore a woman publicly the way that your old man adores you. I’d given up hope that I’d get to keep my booty and succeed in the commercial production world of NYC. I honestly didn’t believe I’d be able to be intelligent and sexy at the same time and be taken seriously … You two have revolutionized what I believe to be possible in Black life. Black, young, sexy, beautiful, brilliant, and powerful. How marvelous.”

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“We are one woman, blessed to be born Black in America … I rejoice for every little girl, every teenager, young adult and yes even every senior, who like me, can look at you and see herself. I rejoice for the mothers who loved their children as much as you and I do, yet could not protect them.”

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“Thank you for making me reconsider bringing my Black babies into this world.”

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Passionate, shattering, and tender, this astonishing book gathers together letters to Michelle Obama, written by African American and African women. Shortly after the election, the Uncrowned Queens Institute in Buffalo, New York, sent out a call across the country for African American women to share their hopes, fears, and advice with the new First Lady. Hundreds of letters and poems poured in, signaling both an unprecedented moment in our nation’s history and a remarkable opportunity for African American women to look at the White House and see and speak to one of their own there.

These very personal letters and poems, written by African American women from all ages and walks of life, celebrate a newfound hope for our world and children, speak to a strong sisterhood with the First Lady, confess often very private fears and dreams, and acknowledge and remember the generations before who endured so much for so long.

Barbara A. Seals Nevergold, a native of Louisiana, is a lifelong resident of Buffalo, New York. She is a retired educator, counselor, and community and political activist. She is cofounder of the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women, Inc., and coauthor of the Uncrowned Queens: African American Women in Community Builders of Western New York series with Peggy Brooks-Bertram. In addition to the Uncrowned Queens, her other passion is family history research. Nevergold and her husband of forty-one years, Paul, have two children, Alanna and Kyle, and one grandchild, Naia.

Peggy Brooks-Bertram is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has lived in Buffalo, New York, since 1986. She is a scholar on the life of Drusilla Dunjee Houston. In 2007 she published a long-lost manuscript of Houston’s, Origin of Civilization from the Cushites, for which she received Honorary Mention in the Best Black Books for 2007. She is currently writing a biography on Houston. She is the mother of two children, Lillian Yvonne-Margaret, a poet and photographer, and Dennison Ivon Jean Bertram, an international photographer. Her husband Dennis Bertram is also an artist. Brooks-Bertram is also a community activist with interests in the health care of African American women.

Source: SunyPress

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Notes from Barbara and Peggy

—We want the book to reach Michelle by January 20th.

—We put the book together in 34 days, beginning on November 11th —Women from the Diaspora including Africa, the United States, the Caribbean and Bermuda responded and are still responding —Letters not used in the book and those that arrived later than 12/1/08 will be available on Uncrowned Queens website in a continuing digital book of letters and poems

—100 letters will be published as part of Go, Tell Michele

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Go, Tell Michelle

Table of Contents

Foreword  Muriel A. Howard, President, Buffalo State College








      We in Anticipation of You (poem) Arlette Miller Smith


Dear Michelle (letter) Peggy Brooks-Bertram


Adoration (poem) vonetta t. rhodes


Dear Michelle (letter) Jeannette Drake


Dear Michelle (letter) Miriam E. Guichard


Dear Mrs. Michelle Obama (letter) Patricia E. Clark


Dear Michelle (letter) Lori Jones


“Mom in Chief” (letter) Andree-Nicola McLaughlin


Rainbow House (poem) Sequoia Olivia Mercier


Dear Michele (letter) Ambrosia Kweh Mondoa


Dear Michelle (letter) E. Rashun Williams

37- 39

Helium Hopes (poem) Andonnia “PhoenixSole” Maiben


Dear Madame First Lady (letter) Teta V. Banks


Dear Michelle (letter) Joanne V. Gabbin


Your Excellency (letter) Zeinabou Hadari


Angels for Dreams (letter) Terry Jenoure


Dear Michele (letter) Rosaria Love


Dear Michele (letter) Rose Parkman Marshall


Dear Michelle (letter) Barbara A. Seals Nevergold


Dearest Michele (letter) Crystal D. Peoples


Dear Michele (letter) Charity Thomas


A Call to Women (poem) Diane Williams


Dear Michele Obama (letter) Lillian Yvonne Bertram


We Stood There (poem) Tracy S. Bailey


Dear Sista Michele Obama (letter) Karima Amin


Familiar Is the Family (poem) Andrea Barnwell


Dear First Lady Michele (letter) Kadidia V. Doumbia


Dear Michele  (letter) Jacqueline Frazier


Dear Michele (letter) Arabella Grayson


No Longer Do We Stand in the Shadows (letter) Doris Green


Dear Michele (letter) Shirley A. R. Lewis


Dear Michele (letter) Alanna E. Marrow


Dear Michele (letter)  Mary E. Weems


Give Thanks (poem) Sandra Maria Esteves


Dearest Michele Sharon R. Amos


Dear Michele (letter) Faith Davis


Because Our Mothers Prayed (poem) Amira Davis


Dear Michele (letter) Nicole J. Day


Dear First Lady Michele Obama (letter) Juanita Dennis


Honor (poem) Geraldine-Drake Hawkins


Dear Michele Obama (letter) Pricilla Y. Hill


Dear Michele (letter) Lily Parker


So Much of the Woman I Am (poem) Donna Aza Smith


A Consciousness of Change Barbara J. Fletcher Stephens


Dear Michele (letter) Norma J. Thomas


Dear Michele (letter) Dera R. Williams


Who Said What (poem) Dera Fuller


Dear Mrs. Michelle Obama (letter) Anita Arnold


From Whence She Came Ina Rebecca Doss Chapman


Dear Michele (letter) La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson


Thank You, First Lady  (letter) Ellen E. Grant


Dear Michele (letter) Sharon Yvonne Jordan Holley


Dear First Lady Michele Obama (letter) Barbara A. McKinzie


Dear Mrs.  Obama (letter) Folasade Oladele


Redefining Black Motherhood (letter) Adah Ward Randolph


Dear Michele (letter) Deborah A. Seals


Comets (poem) Sharon Renee Smith Leonard


Dear Michele Obama (letter) Audrey Spencer


My Great Grandmother Talks (creative essay) Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie


A Sestina for Your Soul (poem)  Dorothy Marie Rice


A Letter to Michele Obama Karen Bernod


Stand in Your Truth (poem) Regan Botts Ruiz


Dear Michele (letter) Christi Ford Brazdo


Decision 2008 (poem) Nicole Brown


Dear Mrs. Obama (letter) Patrice Cathey


Dear Michele (letter) Evangelist Patricia Cruz


A New Garden (poem) Lillian J. Davis-Wilson


Dear Michele (letter) La Shandra Jones


To the First Lady, USA Mary Onginjo


Dear First Lady Michele Obama (letter) Paulette Seals


Dear Michele (letter) Debra E. J. Thompson


The Crossings (poem) Bev Jenai-Myers


Dear Michele (letter) Kelly R. Beavers-Clemons


Dear Michele (letter) Carol L. Evans


Dear Michele (letter) Carole Y. Finnell


Dear Michele (letter) Allie H. Freeman


Dear Michele (letter) Shirley A. James Hanshaw


Pecan Pie (recipe) Shirley A. James Hanshaw


Dear Mrs. Obama (letter) Cynthia A. Bond Hopson


Dear First Lady Michele Obama (letter) Candacé McGill Jackson


Dear Michele (letter) Debra M. Johnson


Dearest Michele (letter) Amanda Williams


Dear Michele (letter) Attica Georges


Dear First Lady Michele Obama (letter) Barbara Glover


Michele Obama (poem) Cornelia Yvette McCowan


Dear Michele (letter) Cynthia Robinson-Bioh


Dear Mrs. Obama (letter) Georgia Mackie Burnette


Congratulation to the First Lady (letter) SaBrina Francesca Brown


An Ode to First Lady (letter) Beryl Small


When We Heard the News (poem) Shirley Sarmiento


Dear Michele (letter) Opal Palmer Adisa


Dear Michele (letter) Carolyn Jones-Brown


Dear Mrs. Obama (letter) Gladys Jean Diji


Dear First Lady Betty K. Falato


Dear Michele (letter) Althea Goodison-Orr


Dear Michele (letter) Toni Asante Lightfoot


Dear Michele (letter) A. Katrise Perera


Dear Mrs. Obama (letter) Leah Creque


Dear First Lady Michele (letter) Tammie Hill


The Obama Lesson (family prayer) Melony McGant


Hold Your Head Up High (prose poem) Janeen Ceparano Wilkins


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Letter to Contributors of Go, Tell Michele

Dear Contributors:

 We are very pleased to announce that Go, Tell Michele is complete and for sale through SUNY Press.  Congratulations to you for your immediate response to our initial call for letters and your unswerving support.  Please go to the SUNY Press front page to see the extraordinary book cover and the book announcement.  You will also see some of the key phrases from some of your beautiful letters. Again, congratulations! Each of the contributors will receive a free copy of the book.  Other books can be secured directly from SUNY Press.

The SUNY Press, Marketing Division is working diligently to make sure that every opportunity to promote this important work.  We would like your support also.  How can you help?  We are compiling a list of professional organizations, commercial book stores, church book stores; women’s organizations, university book stores, websites and other venues which will be excited about this timely and groundbreaking book.  We welcome any and all of your suggestions.

We will also keep you advised of our schedule so that we can assist you in your efforts by attending book signings in your areas.  If you have web-pages, we ask that you point to the SUNY Press webpage to secure accurate and up to date information on the book, book signings and other related activities.  As many of you know, we were aided in our efforts through the support of ChickenBones: A Journal at  This extraordinary webpage is also helping us in getting the word out.  Please help them in any way that you can.

Finally, please see us on CNN, American Morning on January 16th.  Congratulations for a job well done. Barbara and Peggy

Uncrowned Queens Ready to Deliver Book to Michelle Obama

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Dear Barbara and Peggy,  Thank you for a job well done!  

I called SUNY PRESS and was referred to the customer service warehouse to speak with a representative.  I want to verify how soon the book will be available in local bookstores NATIONWIDE because I am sending out an “email blast” to family, friends and associates prior to the CNN program.    The customer representative said that the book will be available through local book stores nationwide as soon as it is published (in about a week–sounds like the same dates you have posted for on-line pre-orders).   So, for those persons in our communities who do not use email or want to order on line, they can go directly to a local book store and ask for it.   The book store will get it for them through SUNY”s distributor, according to what I was told.   

We, the contributors, can generate a lot of interest by emailing our folk before January 16th about watching the CNN program.   This is an initial idea.  Jeannette

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There is new, positive energy in the air.  . . . Few minutes ago…a friend called to tell me to turn on the radio, quickly!   NPR’s “All Things Considered” had an interview with Barbara and Peggy.   The 10- almost 15 minute interview was great.   They read excerpts.  The first poem brought tears to my eyes!  This is a powerful, irresistible  book!   It opens a door for America in a very elegant way on what many black women are thinking… the stuff we say in the beauty parlor and the church choir room  …one of the unexpected themes that emerged…black women are renewed by the fact that Obama picked a woman with dark skin to love, how good that makes us feel….    Jeanette

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                                    By Vonetta T. Rhodes

Dear Michelle, i have dreamed many times of womyn like you. i have often wondered what it was like to be partnered with a man who is your reflection and the lover of our people. Many moons ago, i watched you date the Senior Class President or the Captain of the Football Team in high school, and i admired the magnetism of your beauty. Later on in college, i witnessed you get courted by the Student Government President or the Minister of Information in the Black Student Union, i was in awe of your irrepressible strength. Then as i progressed through life, i saw you shine through your own personal achievements, and take on a mate whose “shine” you knew you could nurture beyond brilliance. i stood in amazement of your patience. i marvel over your equation of success. i ponder endlessly on your working formula for perfectly flowing love. i dig deeper into my mental recesses and ask how do you orchestrate your divine balance of motherhood, daughterhood, sisterhood, womynhood, marriage, professionalism, and faith? How do you actually achieve being a domestic goddess and a revolutionary at the same time? Then i conclude that Sister Michelle is within us all. When i behold her heights, i am witnessing the magnificent rising of my own rainbow within me . . . a wide, long, over-arching, blessing in the midst of life’s illusionary ceilings and rainstorms — God’s re-acquaintance with The Sun. To thank you is to acknowledge all of our history’s greatest Queens: Great-grandmothers, grandmothers, mothers, aunts, daughters, sisters, cousins, nieces, and friends. As Afrikan womyn, our heritage and pride never ends. Our legacy is to know that we never walk alone and our tradition is to defy being destroyed. We have come so far and endured so much for so long. Michelle, when your shoulders are weary and your back is resistant from the perseverance of the mission and the movement to remain standing — lean on me. i am here. The power of God is within us, and the universe awaits . . . “Ashay!” “It once was. It is so. It shall be.”

Vonetta T. Rhodes is a resident of Buffalo, N.Y. She is a founding member of Malika Kambe Umfazi, a sorority that promotes academic, philanthropic, social and cultural growth for all women of Africa’s Diaspora. Reprinted with permission from SUNY Press. NPR

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Go, Tell Michelle Book Review

By Kam Williams

This extraordinary collection of letters to Michelle Obama says a great deal about the lives, the hopes, prayers, fears, and aspirations of African-American women today… We seem to recognize her as one of our own. We are simultaneously proud of her, seek to protect her, and to encourage her. And our expectations for her are obviously very high…

So far, Michelle Obama is serving to help us see ourselves at our best. We see validation of our choices and our values. Even the decision to have her mother accompany the family to the White House resonates with many African-American women who have lived in three-generation homes and know the burden of having a working mother.

The women who have written letters in this collection hail from a broad spectrum of backgrounds and are highly accomplished. So, too, is the recipient. In Michelle Obama, we see reflected the face of inclusion, the face of America as the proverbial land of opportunity, equality and justice. Excerpted from the Foreword by Dr. Muriel A. Howard, President of Buffalo State College

Over the course of the presidential campaign, Michelle Obama was even more of a target than her husband. Whether being quoted out of context as unpatriotic, lampooned on the cover of a national magazine as a machine gun-toting terrorist, having her college thesis combed for grammatical errors or being the subject of a variety of unsubstantiated rumors, her desperate enemies futilely predicted that she would be the cause of her husband’s undoing.

Underreported by the mainstream media was the reaction of black women to this mistreatment of Michelle. “We were incensed when she was accused of being un-American,” admit Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram, co-editors of Go, Tell Michelle. To them, the New Yorker cartoon was the final straw. “Black women everywhere felt the sting of indignation, decried this caricature, and rushed to embrace this and defend this beautiful, graceful, intelligent woman.”

And in the wake of the election, they immediately started soliciting other African-American females, “Uncrowned Queens,” for open letters of support for the incoming First Lady as a way “to send her a special message, grounded in our common ancestry and in the belief that our daughters have not only been inspired by her accomplishments but empowered by her example.”

The upshot of those efforts is a quite evocative collage of heartfelt correspondence in poetry and prose ranging from the intimate to the light and lyrical. Among the hundred contributors are not only professors and professional writers but accomplished women from all over the U.S., Africa and the Caribbean, and representing virtually every walk of life, including teachers, students, a psychiatrist, a nurse, a violinist, a vocalist, an entrepreneur, a dancer, a genealogist, a social worker, a consultant and a country club president, to name a few.

I was particularly moved by the simplicity of the entry by Shirley Hanshaw of Mississippi who shares her favorite recipe for Pecan Pie. “I know that you and Barack are not Southern,” she starts, “nevertheless, I thought you might enjoy this dessert. It is always a hit wherever I take it.” Shirley goes on to let Michelle know that “I have been praying for the safety of your husband and your entire family ever since his candidacy [and] I will continue to pray that God will surround all of you with a hedge of protection.”

An impressive compendium of eloquent messages which together paint a touching tapestry reflecting the depth of sisters’ emotional investment in our new First Lady.

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Restoring Harmonic Balance

 By Rudolph Lewis

15 January 2009

There is something mystical going on with this book [Go, Tell Michelle] that is beyond our wildest dreams.—Jeannette

Mercury—the messenger god (Eshu) . . . represents crossroads—will be in retrograde until February 1 . . . Carolyn

We need to discontinue the long nightmare . . . that, too easily, excludes and forgets the central importance of blackness to modern and postmodern American intellectual and cultural life. Floyd

The starry heavens—in its winter starkness and in fiery impressionistic colors—may indeed be the primary source of human imagination and, possibly, progress. I cannot help my fascination with the travels and phases of the moon, vibrant Venus in the evening sky, the drinking gourd (Big Dipper) over my roof. As with the ancients, we still look for signification in alignments and convergences of stars, planets, and moon in astrological constellations. Like a child, I still make wishes on falling stars. Even in our internet postmodern world divinations of tossed bones (the power of black creativity) die hard, even against the warlike aggression of clock time and the fall of missiles and bombs.

Sometimes in the complexities of today’s world the simplest acts are disarming, as in Aristophanes Lysistrata when Athenian women by the withdrawal of finances and sex seek and establish peace and health for their war-like sons and husbands. It was grand comedy and a critique of the Grecian mindset. Aristophanes’ literary project was stunning. One can say that a current literary project—Go, Tell Michelle—by Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram of Buffalo, without exaggeration, might indeed go far beyond the imaginative work of the Greek dramatist in its social impact in the short term and in its enduring influence on a nation.

In Go, Tell Michelle we have 100 African American female writers—including Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram—reflecting on the significance of the entry 20 January 2009 of Michele Obama and her family into the White House, which one poet has renamed the “Rainbow House.” Yes, the world has long heard of the power of Athenian women. But we have yet to feel and recognize the full impact that black women have had on the cultural and political life of the United States. Those past and living generations (those Uncrowned Queens) will gather mystically at this moment: through the agency of this book Go, Tell Michelle I believe we—black women and their men—will come out of a dark tunnel and light up the heavens.

This work pulled together in 34 days by Barbara and Peggy and 98 other black female cultural workers, with the help of SUNY Press, is greatly anticipated. Hopefully Go, Tell Michelle will be available this week and on the shelves by this weekend. It will reshape black female consciousness (as much as Go, Tell It on the Mountain) for many years to come. Invoked here is the influence of ten generations (and more) of African women and their descendants in the creation of that which is best in American culture and politics.

Americans and citizens of the world will see it in the person of Michele Obama and in the work of  these 100 African American women in a literary work that will become as much of a classic as Aristophanes Lysistrata.

I urge you to get your copy of Go, Tell Michelle. It is destined to be a NYTimes Bestseller.

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Fantastic Rudy. Wonderful

For ten years Barbara and I have been working/struggling to ensure that the voices of ordinary African American women did not languish in historical obscurity.  We worked to mitigate the effects of a culture of permanent amnesia that we often have about our existence and our contributions to community building in this nation. This amnesia is especially rampant for those who do not sing, dance, secure ivy league positions, play basketball, play football or walk the fashion runways.

Our focus was to unearth the Miss Essies of the community.  Those who took care of children for 40 years so that African American women and men could go to college and graduate schools and make a better life for themselves.  Our lives have been changed forever and will continue to change because we have not only collected these stories, photos and other related materials and placed them on our webpage at  but we have looked in the faces of most of these women and heard their other stories that will never leave us.

I am sure you will remember the story of Ms. Claiborne whose life achievements were found at the garbage dump    Like you, we get up every morning believing that the work we did and continue to do would have value and meaning for the world.  We have a greater appreciation for how women shy away from telling their stories, even when they are nominated to do so by their own community, family or friends. 

I think the Go, Tell Michelle book has unleashed  an even greater desire for African/African American women to tell their stories; to have them believe that they have something to say that the world needs to hear; that they can take their ideas and write them down and have them have great meaning beyond themselves; that they have the power to change lives with their words; that their contemporaries as well as the next generation can see and understand the power of their words; and that they can speak unafraid that someone will dislike or misinterpret their meanings.  They told it exactly as they saw it. 

We think Go, Tell Michelle reconfigures the Yes We Can mantra of the Obama candidacy into Yes We Did.  And we say, Yes We Did, African American women contributors to the Go, Tell Michelle book across this country, Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere. Operating on everything except CP time, they responded immediately and helped us put this book together in record time. Now let’s all Go, Tell It On the Mountain through the vast and undisputable network that we have as African American women around this world.  Rudy, you are part of that network and we thank you.  Peggy

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Donna (Aza) Smith Writes to Michelle Obama!

Greetings and Happy New Year, It is my esteemed pleasure to inform my family and friends of my most recent published work.  I was honored to be selected as a contributing writer to the new book, “Go, Tell Michelle:  African American Women Write to the New First Lady“.  Here is what the publisher, SUNY Press, has to say:  “Passionate, shattering, and tender, this astonishing book gathers together letters to Michelle Obama, written by African American and African women.

Shortly after the election, the Uncrowned Queens Institute in Buffalo, New York, sent out a call across the country for African American women to share their hopes, fears, and advice with the new First Lady. Hundreds of letters and poems poured in, signaling both an unprecedented moment in our nation’s history and a remarkable opportunity for African American women to look at the White House and see and speak to one of their own there”.  Please read on to hear the full story:


The week of Thanksgiving, the editor of Port of Harlem magazine ( sent me an email which was a call for submission for a new book to Michelle Obama.  The deadline was the Monday after Thanksgiving, so Sunday night I buckled down to write my poem.  Around 5am I submitted “So Much of the Woman I Am” to the editors.   A few days later I received a congratulatory email that my poem was selected!  This is an incredible honor, as they only selected 100 contributors out of the hundreds of submissions received. 

Please click on the link below to hear more from the editors, Barbara A. Seals Nevergold and Peggy Brooks-Bertram, two powerful women who are doing great things to inform the world of the depth and beauty of Black women, and our contributions to America and the world.  I have not personally met these two powerhouses yet, and I believe my journey will make that happen very soon.  This link also includes their interviews on NPR and Buffalo, NY news.  Here is an excerpt of my contribution.  You will have to order the book to read the entire poem!

So Much of the Woman I Am   Up from the pine trees and the tall grass And the seaweeds surrounding the Gullah peoples in a little town in the south, Sprang forth a humanity that is Deep in you.   In the hallowed hallways And the sterile rooms And the stately facades preserving the Privileged in ivy buildings up north You revealed an intelligence that is undenying.   Back on the home front and the busy streets And the daily duties of a professional, wife, mother, daughter, Sister, friend You found a way to gracefully bring balance and beauty To a world that is sometimes cold and unforgiving.   For so many, you paint a different picture; Tell another story. For me, you represent so many of the women I know, So much of the woman I am© Donna (Aza) Smith  11/30/08

There is a lot of buzz, media (national and international) and interest in this book.  We even have a Facebook page so you can see book reviews and people who have made comments.  You can even write your own review (once you receive your copy, of course!).  We are spreading the word so our book can appear on the NYTimes Bestsellers list.  Please help us by forwarding the info to your circles of influence.  I am particularly appreciative of Mr. Wayne Young, Publisher, Port of Harlem Magazine; Dr. Teshia Young Roby, who contributed to my final draft; Mrs. Nevergold and Ms. Brooks-Bertrum, who selected my piece; and Mr. Brian Jackson, who provided as needed emotional support! Finally and equally important, I am forever grateful to you for your love and support. I AM BECAUSE YOU ARE. Stay well, Aza Donna! (Now stop reading and go order your book!  (

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Why Michelle Obama inspires women around the globe—Those who focus on Michelle Obama’s impact on America are underestimating her reach. The first lady is inspiring women of color around the globe to look at themselves, and America, in fresh ways. . . . The notion of a woman being a first in anything is alien in many parts of the world. Millions of women struggle against sexual violence, discrimination and poverty, several women activists say. But Michelle Obama offers a personal rebuke to that message. Her personal story—born into a blue-collar family; overcoming racism and once even making more money than her husband—makes her a mesmerizing figure to women across the globe, says Susan M. Reverby, a professor of women’s studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Reverby says this is the first time many women have seen their class and color reflected in America’s first lady. .  .  . A hint of Michelle Obama’s global appeal came recently when she spoke at an all-girls school in London, England. The students came from various backgrounds: Muslim, Christian, black and white. Yet they all surged forward, shrieking and even crying, as they hugged the first lady. CNN

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Go Tell Michelle—Peggy Brooks-Bertram’s Letter

New Call for Letters for sequel to Go, Tell Michelle‏

By Peggy Brooks-Bertram and Barbara Seals Nevergold

Why White America Perhaps Fears Michelle More Than Barack

Excerpts from a “Jack & Jill politics” newsletter  

Responses to Post-Midterm Elections

Open Note to President Barack Obama (Jerry W. Ward, Jr.)

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Uncrowned Queens Institute series

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 1  African American Women Community Builders of Western New YorkSpacer Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Author and editor Barbara A. Seals Nevergold – Author and editor

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 2  African American Women Community Builders of Western New YorkSpacer Barbara A. Seals Nevergold – Author and editor Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Author and editor

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 3  African American Women Community Builders of Western New YorkSpacer Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Author and editor Barbara A. Seals Nevergold – Author and editor

Uncrowned Queens, Volume 4  Afrrican American Women Community Builders of OklahomaSpacer Barbara A. Seals Nevergold – Author and editor Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Author and editor

Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire  Origin of the Civilization from the CushitesSpacer Drusilla Dunjee Houston – Author Peggy Brooks-Bertram – Editor


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Drusilla Dunjee-Houston’s

Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire , Book II

Edited and Introduction by Peggy Brooks-Bertram

Origin of Civilization from the Cushites Unearthed!! (Review)

Uncrowned Queens:  African American Women 

Community Builders of Western New York, Volume I 

Written and Edited by

 Peggy Brooks-Bertram, Dr. P.H., Ph.D. and Barbara Seals Nevergold, Ph.D. 

Uncrowned Queens: African American Women Book Review

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 7 January 2008



Home Uncrowned Queens Project Table

Related files: Women Talking to Michele  Dear Michelle Letters  Obligation to Fight for the World as It Should Be   The Crossings  Wilson’s Obama Poem 

Why White America Perhaps Fears Michelle More Than Barack   Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady (book)

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