The Right Kind of Love

1st Corinthians 13: 4-7 (NIV)Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love, according to the above passage, “does not dishonor others,” “it is not easily angered”, and “it does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” In this passage we see a clear picture of the right kind of love, even the “good love” that Whitney Houston once sang about. Victims of domestic violence do not receive the right kind of love when they are in an abusive relationship. October is designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Having spent fifteen years as a domestic violence legal advocate, one of my purposes in life is to speak up for domestic violence victims and educate/inform the public about domestic violence and the harm it does to our communities. It is all of our business to protect women and children, and to work towards reducing or eliminating domestic violence.

Let’s begin with a brief description of what qualifies as domestic violence. Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used to exert power and control over another in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, psychological or financial. Verbal abuse can cause irreparable harm to a woman’s self-esteem, especially when she is called names like “stupid” and “bitch” on a regular basis. Physical violence can begin as a slap in the face or a push. The violence can escalate to punches, kicks, strangulation, and ultimately murder. Domestic violence crimes include assault, threats, harassment, malicious mischief, property damage, telephone harassment, stalking, cyberstalking, unlawful imprisonment, protection order violations, and interfering with reporting domestic violence (simply put, making the phone unavailable). These behaviors are NOT examples of the right kind of love.

According to statistics, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men will experience intimate partner physical violence in their lifetime. 1 in 10 teenagers will be harmed in an abusive relationship. Black women experience intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 22 times the rate of women of other races. Black women who are marginalized are at a tremendous risk for victimization by an intimate partner (Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community).

Let’s take a glimpse at two real life headlines from last year:

“Domestic-related murder victim allegedly attacked by suspect 1 month before death” – Fox 59

June 10, 2020

Indianapolis – Police were called to a home early Tuesday morning and found  29 year old Ashley Richardson shot to death. Her fiance was arrested for her murder. According to her sister, “he lured her there and executed her.” “He took her from us. There is no redo.” Just five weeks before the fatal shooting, police were called to the same address for a previous violent domestic incident between the same suspect and the same victim. The victim’s sister said Ashley tried to break up with the suspect after prosecutors claim he assaulted her with a hammer inside their home last month.

Mom stabbed to death on North Side trying to help rescue friend’s daughter from boyfriend”

Syracuse.com December 13, 2020

Syracuse, N.Y. – On Friday night, a friend asked Franchelli Almonte to help her pick up her 17 year-old daughter, who was with a boyfriend who wouldn’t let her leave. Almonte drove her friend to a North Side apartment, but when the girl tried to leave, her boyfriend told her she couldn’t. He threatened her. When the girl got into the car, he threw a brick through the car’s back window. Then he came over to the driver’s side of the car, where Almonte sat. She tried to ward him off with a stick she kept in the car for self defense. Instead he stabbed her. “All she was doing was giving her friend a ride, said Amy Larrieux, another friend of Almonte. Later that night, Almonte, 36, mother of two, was pronounced dead at Upstate University Hospital, according to police and friends.

Sadly, there are many more headlines just like these. The reality is domestic violence can never be eliminated by silence. Speak up. Innocent women and children are still being murdered. Speak up. Society can no longer afford to be bystanders to the violence that occurs in families. The children who witness violence are likely to repeat the behavior as adults. Speak up. The trauma lasts for generations without intervention/counseling. There are resources, shelters, hotlines, and advocates to help you through a violent situation. Don’t let fear keep you silent. Speak up. Ask for help, or if you are given the opportunity, help someone. Here are a few ways to help yourself or others:

1. DON’T suffer alone and in silence, there are people that care.

2. DO speak up and report domestic violence.

3. DO obtain a protection order to keep an abuser away from you and/or your children.

4. DO confide in a friend, one who will listen and not judge.

5. DON’T blame victims. The violence they endure is not their fault.

6. DO make a safety plan. Click this link https://ncadv.org/personalized-safety-plan

7. DO know the warning signs of abuse (available through agency links provided below).

Following is a short list of resources for domestic violence survivors. Please consider donating to these agencies during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It can be your step towards helping eliminate domestic violence.

Atlantic Street Center https://atlanticstreetcenter.org

New Beginnings https://newbegin.org/

DAWN https://www.dawnrising.org/

Northwest Family Life https://northwestfamilylife.org/

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence https://wscadv.org

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence https://ncadv.org/

YWCA Seattle/King County https://ywcaworks.org

Seattle City Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence Unit

https://www.seattle.gov/cityattorney/crime-victim-assistance/domestic-violence-help

Project Be Free https://project-be-free.com

“Show them your heart and tell them you’ll help” is the final statement of a commercial I saw more times than I can count during the pandemic. This commercial advertisement raises awareness and money for abused animals. During the same time period, I don’t recall seeing a commercial addressing domestic violence or raising money for abused women and children. I love my cat Sierra dearly, but can our society be more concerned about animals than abused women and children? I sure hope not.

The right kind of love is kind, loving, patient, it protects and does not harm, it is not verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive. The right kind of love will always make you feel safe. The right kind of love will not isolate you from your family and friends. The right kind of love allows you to control your own thoughts and decisions.

To anyone who has been harmed or affected by domestic violence, I wish you peace, healing, and restoration. My daughter sang this song for me, and now I dedicate it to you. You are beautiful, courageous, resilient and strong. You should be given your flowers now. God bless you.

India.Arie, “Flowers”

Did you cuss?

Christians are supposed to be “the best of the best with honors, sir” (quoted from Will Smith in the movie Men in Black). We are not supposed to cuss or speak ill of others even when they hurt us. In Luke 6:28, KJV it says, “Bless them that curse you, and pray for those mistreating you.” Romans 12:14 NIV states, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse”. Finally, 1st Peter 3:10 NIV says, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.” We get it Jesus, we are not supposed to curse. We are yet striving to be like you.

These last two years painful things occurred that were out of my control, and there were times when a cuss word wanted to slip out. There I said it! Confession is good for the soul. The Lord’s grace and mercy brought me back to the reality that if I am going to represent Him, I have to stick to His godly standards. That is all right with me. I wrote this poem to express my feelings of hurt. Maybe you can relate, and maybe you can’t. I am sharing my heart with you:

“I Didn’t Cuss”

I didn’t cuss, I didn’t cuss, I wanted to, I felt I must.

The hurt I felt was so unjust.

Hurt from here, hurt from there, my heart was hurting everywhere.

I played by the rules that I was taught

Be kind, show love, but it was for naught.

The world had different rules to play,

In their rules I had no say.

Sit down, shut up, your thoughts don’t matter

Wait, I still have a glass ceiling to shatter.

I grew up poor, saw my brothers imprisoned,

It changed my mind, and gave me a new vision.

Within those walls I would never be,

My sound mind and education would set me free

To be, I thought, whatever I wanted to be.

Isn’t that what mama told me?

I didn’t cuss, I didn’t cuss

I wanted to and I felt I might bust

As I tried to keep hurt from turning to hate

To call on sweet Jesus before its too late.

I needed Him to help me carry the weight.

Contents under pressure, straining to pour out

Lifting my burdens with the sound of a shout.

I wanted to cuss, I wanted to cuss, I did not feel

There was anyone I could trust.

But I learned cussing won’t ease this pain.

So I wait, Holy Spirit, for your comfort, rest and rain.

I didn’t cuss.

When people and circumstances cause you pain, you can still trust the Lord. Check out Donnie McClurkin’s beautiful song “I’ll Trust You.”

In Memoriam of Seattle’s Central District

I think it is time that we pay our last respects to our dearly departed iconic Central Area spots that we’ve loved, and yet never properly mourned. I was born and raised in Seattle, and it has been my home for almost 60 years (oowee).  As a child, I resided with my family at a number of locations including 15th and Cherry, 18th and Jefferson, 28th and Norman, and the Yesler Terrace. My aunt and uncle owned a house on 28th and Norman, where much of my childhood was spent. Additionally,  my uncle owned two record shops in Seattle: Summerrise World of Music on 12th and Jackson and the Wholesale House on Rainier Ave South across the street from Boraccini’s bakery. For some residents, these were good, prosperous times in the Central Area. Recently, however, the Central Area looks less and less like the Black community of the past, and it makes me sad. I feel a sense of grief and loss for what once was a thriving community. 

Earlier this week I drove past the southeastern corner of 23rd and Jackson, a site formerly known as Promenade 23. I witnessed for the first time, a huge, beautiful new complex. My first thought was “how many Black people will be living there?” I was not excited about this new building because it did not represent something that “belonged” to the community. Instead I felt resentful. I’m being honest. In the months I spent watching this building taking shape, I felt the need to mourn that particular block of the Central Area. Gentrification has continued at an alarming rate in the Central Area. I do not claim to have the answers as to how this trend will be reversed. This blog post is my cathartic way of mourning for the Central Area. Join me now for the Memorial Service for the Central Area. I think I hear the community gathering, and they are singing “Oh my lord, lord, lord, lord. Oh my lord, lord, lord, lord. Um hmm, um hmm, uh mmm.”


ORDER OF SERVICE


OPENING SONG “Back Down Memory Lane” By Minnie Riperton (click on link) https://youtu.be/82vJHFg33NkT


Old testament reading Lamentations 3: 22-23


New testament reading Revelations 21:4


Community Reading “I Remember the Central District in a Special Way”

“Today we are going on an imaginary trip through the old Central District. We will name and remember favorite local spots that no longer exist. Some of these sites were businesses,  stores, schools and restaurants. There is no need to hold back your tears, cry as loud as you want when we visit these places. There should be plenty of tissue available. Here we go…

Summerrise World of Music 12th and Jackson (not actually in the CD, but it was owned by my uncle and he lived in the CD and he served the community)
RL’s Home of Good Bar-B-Q Yesler Way (The best barbecue in Seattle, hands down! Cash only, and there was an accompanying sign that read”In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash”)
Little’s Mini Mart – Corner of 17th and Jefferson across from Providence Hospital
Inez’s Kitchen 12th & Jefferson
La Mediterranean (Black owned restaurant near Seattle U, and a favorite of my husband’s when we were attending SU)
Central Area Motivation Program 722 18th Ave. (The original can never be replaced. My aunt, cousin and my husband were all employed here at one time. My son injured his head at the park next door when he was four, resulting in his first stitches. Luckily his big sister was there and rescued him.)

Liberty Bank – 24th & Union (a Black owned bank, where I had an account)
Frank’s corner store 24th & Jackson (I used to buy red ginger and lemon here)
Jordan’s Drugs – Cherry St. (open for  late night prescriptions)
Catfish Corner ML King Jr. & Cherry (I know they have new locations, but nothing beats the OG spot and staff)
Promenade 23 Includes Red Apple, Joy Unlimited Christian Bookstore, Lady Legs Hosiery, Welch’s Hardware Store
BJ’s Beauty Supply 24th & Jackson 
Hidmo Eritrean Cuisine 20th & Jackson (Rest in Peace Rahwa Habte)

Heritage House/Cotton Club Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. & S. Dearborn ( the R&B group Blue Magic performed there)
Carol’s Essentials Gift Shop 23rd Ave. in the post office plaza
Helen’s Diner 23rd Avenue & Union
Thompson’s Point of View Off Union
Philly’s Best (original location on 23rd and Union)
Sammy’s Burgers 26th & Union (you needed patience and courage to order from this place)
Eddie Cotton’s on Madison (home of the Soul burger and the best shakes)
East Madison Valley Cleaners (my mother worked here for L.B. Haynes. He called me “Small Fry”)
S.O.I.C. on Madison and Jackson (my aunt Hellyne worked there as did many African Americans in the 80’s)
Deano’s on Madison (this is for somebody out there)
Oscar’s on Madison (who’s spot was this?)

Special Salute to South Seattle’s historic past (Read silently, but loud sobbing allowed)
Reflective musical tribute  SOUF by Rell Be Free https://youtu.be/t2RtX9oK3rA


Zion Preparatory Academy (both of my children attended Zion Prep at both of the locations. Is there even a marker?)
Rainier Cinema Columbia City (it was our Black theater)
Unforgettable’s Gift Shop Rainier Plaza
The Wellington Tea Room (my daughter’s 8th birthday was celebrated here)
Southwest Mortuary at Rainier & Henderson


Parting View Yesler Terrace (our family resided at 911 Alder, Apt 799)


Recessional song        “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”  By G.C. Cameron https://youtu.be/_ybSbqV5ll4

Our Yesler Terrace address 911 Alder, #799 (Upstairs East unit) Seattle, WA


This concludes our service in memory of the Black Central District and surrounding neighborhoods. The community is welcome to celebrate the passing of these iconic places by regularly supporting our local Black businesses still in existence. Together we can keep hope alive!

p.s. Please share any fond memories you may have of the CD in the comments. God bless you.

That’s What You Get…Not God’s Answer”

Scripture verse:

Psalm 103:10

“he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

How often does the saying or thought, “that’s what you get” come from your lips or to your mind. Never? You’re good. Often? Let’s pray! I think we all can be guilty of this offense if we are honest. Most recently the thought “that’s what you get” came to mind when several people were infected with Covid 19, after attending gatherings known as “super spreader” events. We read the headline and say or think, “See that’s what you get, didn’t nobody tell you to go to a superspreader event”. Or when something bad happens to someone who has wronged us or a loved one, the initial thought is “That’s what you get”. We somehow feel vindicated. Can I tell on me? When something bad happens to folks that offend us, we should not say, “that’s what you get for messing with me”. That is NOT God. That is coming from our flesh and it is sinful. Oh, it is difficult to really BE and represent God on a daily basis. Our flesh is at war constantly with his spirit. Psalm 103:10 says “he does not give US what we deserve.” That is me and you. Even so, we find it hard to extend this same grace to others? I am going to do my best to stop the thought “that’s what you get” from taking over when I am tempted. I want to be more like Christ in ALL my ways. Will you take the challenge with me?

Missing Aunt Hellyne

Happy birthday to my sweet aunt Hellyne Summerrise, born September 23, 1925. She would be 95 years old today. I miss her so much and wish I could talk to her about many things going on in the world today. I thought of all she did in her life to promote civil rights, and how she and my mother were true sisters that loved and supported each other through thick and thin. I thought about her love of reading and how she would stay up late at night to finish a book. I was in awe of how fast she finished books. Now my daughter Kaila reads books just as fast. She even got in trouble (good trouble) for sneaking off to read in elementary school. Aunt Hellyne has passed down her love of books and knowledge to our family. She also loved the television shows “Little House on the Prairie” and “Matlock”. You had better not call her when her shows were on, unless you wanted to talk to yourself. Just by coincidence, I got a chance to watch Matlock this morning and I see why she was hooked. My husband only watched for a few moments and it even made him chuckle! Matlock still brings back sweet memories of my aunt.

Hellyne Summerrise at Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the Capitol Rotunda in Olympia on January 16, 1989 (photo MOHAI)

You may think you know the love of a sibling, but Hellyne’s love for my mother was so deep she would take her spankings! She could not stand to see my mother hurting. That is real love. My uncle Bob once said he thought he would have to take my mother on his honeymoon with them because they were so close. To know or experience that level of love is something that would benefit our hurting world today. The bible says in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no one than to lay down their life for a friend”. I believe my aunt had that level of love for her sister. She and my mom simply loved being together. One of their delights was going to the Rainier Wendy’s “all you can eat” salad bar. They almost always got the same items: salad bar, chili and maybe a Wendy’s single (no cheese for Hellyne). They loved the buffet style restaurants like Royal Fork and King’s Table. When Jerrell was young, Hellyne and Bob often took him to eat at Zoopas near Southcenter. I don’t know if he realized they were starting him out on the healthy food regiment he now upholds. Back then, it was just time with Nana and Papa (smile).

If my aunt were here today I would surely see her out marching for justice as she did when she marched with Dr. King the one time he visited Seattle. She would be in the middle of talks about justice because everyone would certainly want to know “What does Mrs. Summerrise think?” She had the kind of spirit and energy that made people listen and pay attention. She was not E.F. Hutton but she had that effect on folks. She protested against apartheid and had the great honor of meeting Nelson Mandela when he visited Seattle. My aunt liked the spotlight, but she did not grandstand or try to get notoriety for herself. It was about peace, fairness and justice for all people. She would not be happy that the nation is so divided today. She also would not approve of protests that are not peaceful. She did not stand for foolishness. She would want everyone to be heard.

My aunt Hellyne would encourage all people to vote because of the sacrifices our ancestors made. Lately, I have started to get apathetic about voting, due to personal hurt. I know, I know! She would not like that at all, but I am being honest. She would say, “Nevermind, Shawn Kismet! Now you know better, get your behind out there and vote!” Make no mistake, I will be voting in the November 2020 election, if only to honor the memories of my mom and aunt Hellyne.

Happy birthday Aunt Hellyne. I love and miss you. Thank you for loving our family and teaching us to be proud of who we are. Thank you for the protective love you provided my mother. I believe your love for her made a true difference in her life. Thank you for all you did to make the world a better place, and for being a drum major for justice and peace. I wish you were here to comfort me and tell me, “it’s gonna be all right.” Your spirit still lives on in your family.

There was a recent music battle between Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight. In my aunt Hellyne’s mind, there would be no battle, Gladys would win hands down! This is her favorite song of all time, at least to my knowledge:). Enjoy “Midnight Train to Georgia”.

Beauty for Ashes

Isaiah 61: 1-3 “The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

This has not been fun. The coronavirus is not funny, it is not a joke, it is not fake news. It is real, it is deadly and it is insidious. We had no personal control over the virus and could not stop it on our own. It was going to affect everyone, white and black, rich and poor, from the White House to my house, we have all been forced to live a new normal. Like it or not.

As the virus spread throughout Washington, it felt like being in a horror movie like the 1960’s movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. Who would be next to catch the virus? Would it be me or someone I love? Anything was possible.

Jerrell Davis, age 3

While we waited anxiously to see who was being affected by the virus, it was very easy to act as if this was something to brush off and it would simply go away. Hardly. When Seattle Public Schools closed on March 12th, people started thinking about this a little differently, like maybe it was more serious than they originally thought.

Jerrell Davis, age 3

The Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington continued to be the epicenter with elderly patients dying almost daily. But still, that did not bother most people because we were thinking, “I’m not old, my body is not vulnerable”. Wrong thinking. There have been people saying, “Black people are not getting the virus.” Wrong thinking again! Black people have gotten the virus and some have died from it. I believe we are finally getting to the place of understanding the seriousness of COVID 19. I know, because some people are showing their true colors by their behavior. There are those who have hoarded much needed sanitizer, toilet paper, masks and paper towels. They have bought these items in excess without regard for the needs of others. The spirit of greed has played out in the aisles of Costco and other drugstores. Just the other day as I returned to my car from Bartell’s drug store, a man getting in the car next to me shouted “There are no masks in this world, this is sh.t!!” I just looked at him, said “I know”, and calmly tried to get in my car. In a nearby Rite Aid drugstore, a man was so angry he began cursing in the aisle. When he saw me and another lady look up, he calmed down for a moment to say “Excuse me”. He too was angry about the limited supply of items available in the store.

Jerrell Davis, age 3

Well, I know you’re probably thinking, “I thought this was about beauty for ashes”. I am getting to it, just be patient. I wanted you to know why the idea even came to me. A few days ago, my son sent me a series of pictures from his childhood that he edited to show his sentiment about the coronavirus. The pictures you are seeing in this post were taken during a family outing at Universal City Walk, Hollywood when he was just three years old (1995). We had stopped at a dancing water fountain that randomly sprang up at different intervals. He thought it was amazing and fun. I was able to take pictures of him at different times while he played in the fountain. The last photo shows him crying because he got completely soaked! When he sent me the edited version of the photos, I was so tickled as they accurately depicted my feelings about the current situation we are in.

Jerrell Davis, age 3

While COVID 19 is not funny in the least, we have to keep living and do our best to keep our heads up and find joy in our day to day lives. Believe me when I say I am encouraging myself while I encourage you! Isaiah 61:3 says, “To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, and the oil of joy instead of mourning”. All I can say is “HALLELUJAH!” I need that! I believe we all need it. We need spiritual restoration from the devastating effects of the coronavirus on our world. So when my son sent me those photos, it made me smile and realize that I could still have a sense of humor. I could laugh and be joyful, and openly share that I am grateful to be alive and healthy. Make no mistake, that does not mean it is okay to make fun or light of those who have been or still are affected by the coronavirus. We should be showing love, kindness, grace and mercy to all. We are responsible for helping each other through this pandemic. We still have life, which means we still have time to pray and unselfishly give of our time and talents to help one another through this season. We have time to take groceries to someone in need, give cash to someone in need, make meals for someone, or call those you have not checked on for a while. There are many ways to make a difference right now, to give your neighbor the gift of “beauty for ashes”. I hope you are not one of the people who have hoarded items that are needed by others. If you do have extra supplies, please share them with someone who does not have as much. The Lord requires us “to take care of orphans and widows” (James 1: 27)!

What are you doing to give “beauty for ashes”? I know that WA-BLOC (Washington Building Leaders Of Change) is leading “Feed the Beach” and providing food to 150-200 Rainier Beach residents every Tuesday and Thursday. They have been leading this effort since March 13th. They are way ahead of everyone else. My employer, Seattle Municipal Court, is paying my salary right now, even though I am not able to work from home, and I am grateful. My husband’s non-profit organization, Rainier Beach Action Coalition, closed for two weeks starting March 25th. RBAC leadership made the decision to pay staff during the closure. Say Amen somebody! My sister Fai delivered a lemon meringue pie to my doorstep. My neighbor, Dr. Polly Fabian is providing our family with important information about COVID 19 and staying healthy, my friend Annjanette sends me articles and ministry materials to strengthen my faith, my cousin Daryl and my friend Carliss send scriptures to strengthen my faith, and my neighbor Scott edged my grass just because he is a good neighbor. My son even brought over a care package that included gummy vitamins, a bag of frozen tater tots (HILARIOUS), batteries and a disposable camera to photo chronicle this unprecedented time. These things are beauty for ashes for me. Let me know what restores you and your family during this time. What is your beauty for ashes, oil of joy and garment of praise? May God continue to bless you and keep you healthy.

Enjoy this song by Mary Mary, “Can’t Give Up Now”.

Black History Month Is Never Over

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you, to prosper you and not harm you. To give you hope and a future.”

You certainly don’t need me to tell you, but I’m going to say it anyway, “Black History is American History and should be celebrated ALL year”. So let’s not say goodbye to Black History Month, let’s say farewell to February and continue to celebrate the wonderful history of Black people right on through March and beyond. God’s promise is to give us hope and a future. He has predestined our greatness, and we all make history when we realize the power within ourselves to change the world.

I want to celebrate people in my family who have made history or are making history right now. WORD! Brothers and sisters, you can make history today!

I have to start with my mother, Frances Simmons. She was the prettiest, sweetest, and best fisherman/woman ever. She was famous for being able to put her line down and fish at a moment’s notice. She would go on trips to Moses Lake and bring back coolers full of crappie, and then share them with family and friends. She taught her family the love of fishing as well, so all of us grew up knowing how to cast a line. She also taught us we could do anything a white person could do, and our race did not exclude us from experiencing the same opportunities afforded whites. She made me enter a local fishing derby in the late 60’s and early 70’s called the Huck Finn/Becky Thatcher fishing derby. It was held at Greenlake. She and my aunt designed costumes for three years straight, until I finally won first prize for my Becky Thatcher costume and took home a new bicycle.

Imagine that! A Black Becky Thatcher! Becky Thatcher was a fictional character in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer book, and of course, she was white. My mother pushed the envelope and said, “we are going to win this”, and eventually we did! I was timid about entering the contest, not knowing what people would think and how they would react. My mother’s determination and encouragement that I could do anything regardless of my race, made my fear and trepidation melt away. After I won the bicycle, they ended the derby!

Hellyne Summerrise – My aunt and Seattle civil rights icon. She marched with Martin Luther King Jr. during his visit to Seattle in the early 1960’s. She also participated in the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, D.C., May 12 – June 24, 1968 shortly after King’s assassination. The Poor People’s Campaign focused on economic justice for poor people. Hellyne and her husband Bob, were among those who had the opportunity to meet Nelson Mandela when he visited Seattle after he was released from prison. She also participated in protests against apartheid and was placed under arrest at the South African embassy in Seattle. In addition to her civil rights work, she opened her own Montessori school on King Street, called “The Little House.” This sister was bad! A great activist and educator.

Robert “Bob” Summerrise, Jr. – My uncle Bob was one of the first Black on-air personalities in Seattle. He was employed by several radio stations, most notably KYAC. His smooth voice melted the hearts of the local jazz and blues fans. He owned two record shops in Seattle (family can correct me if there were more). The first was Summerrise World of Music on Jackson Street. He later opened The Wholesale House on Rainier Avenue, across from Borrachini’s bakery. His son, Robin Summerrise, continues his legacy and has also melted hearts with his smooth, sweet interactive style that he brings to deejaying. One of my favorite memories of Papa Bob was when he took me to see The Jackson Five. I was around nine years old. It was the one and only time I saw Michael Jackson live. Bob was friends with many great musicians, most notably, Seattle music legend Quincy Jones. He was also friends with the late Rev. James Bevel, a civil rights activist and friend of Dr. King.

My sister, Fai Mathews and cousin Marsha Miles (Summerrise) were models in the Zebra fashion shows in the late 60’s/early 70’s. They were among the first to bring African fashion to the forefront in Seattle. They were known for sewing and modeling some of the finest original fashions around the Seattle area. If you wanted to check them out, you could find them at the Black and Tan, a popular Black nightclub that was located on 12th Avenue near Jackson Street. Fai continues to participate in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day march, often accompanied by her grandchildren or other family members. Local newspapers seem to get a picture of her almost every year.

My cousin, Cece Summerrise, is a pharmacist. She worked very hard to attain her dream, enduring long days and nights studying, while still holding down her job. Cece was committed to the promise she made to her grandmother Hellyne, that she would finish school and become a pharmacist. It was not easy, but she persevered and succeeded.

My niece, Francesca Richard is a musical artist (Deb’s Daughter), record producer and songwriter in Los Angeles. She has penned songs for Uncle Charlie Wilson, and most recently she penned Johnny Gill’s new single, “Perfect”. She also wrote and performed the song “Tell Me” from the 2004 movie, Walking Tall, starring Dwayne Johnson!

My sister, Marguerite Richard is an accomplished gospel singer and soloist. She has graced the stage with gospel greats Richard Smallwood, Keith Pringle and Sandra Crouch to name a few. She was a member of several local choirs including True Destiny, FAME Choir, Northwest Connection, Washington State Mass Choir, and Hosanna. One of her first choir directors at Franklin High School was the great Pat Wright, director of the Total Experience gospel choir. Marguerite recorded the album “He Got Up” with the GMES (Gospel Music Educators Seminar) Mass Choir. She is also a civil rights activist and a member of the Black Action Network. She is known locally as Sister Pearl. Take a listen to the song “Stand Still” when you click on the link. You might hear her singing!

My daughter, Kaila Nsimbi is Director of Leadership and Career Development for Rainier Scholars, a 12-year program offering a pathway to college graduation for hard-working, low-income students of color. They provide intensive, academic preparation, leadership development and personalized support to the scholars. Her father, Gregory Davis, is a founding board member of the organization. Kaila and her husband, Ken Nsimbi, are worship leaders at Rainier Avenue Church in Seattle. They are both involved in youth ministry and church leadership. Kaila serves on the boards of The Robinson Center and Team Read. Ken serves on the boards of World Relief and New Horizons.

My son, Jerrell Davis, is a renaissance man. He is a musician, whose stage name is Rell be Free. He is also an educator and activist. He is one of the founding members of WABLOC, Washington Building Leaders of Change, an organization created to address the educational inequity of Black and Brown students in Seattle Public Schools. Jerrell performed as headlining artist for the Martin Luther King Jr. rally at Westlake Park last year. A few years ago he shared the stage with Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. Jerrell performed his moving piece, “Cell Blocks Like Slave Ships”, which hauntingly depicts America as a nation moving from slavery to mass incarceration. Jerrell has studied under Marian Wright Edelman of the Children’s Fund, and helped bring the Freedom Schools model to Seattle. He is an inspiring educator and mentor at Rainier Beach high school, bringing hope to our marginalized youth.

My niece Danyelle Benware is in the veterinary research field. She is an associate scientist at Amgen. Within her department she is the clinical lead and training manager.

My great niece Asmian Obanion-White, who attends Rainer Beach High School, recently won first place in the August Wilson monologue competition at the Seattle Rep. She will go to New York in May to compete in the finals.

My great nephew Davon Fuller is a sophomore at Rainier Beach High School who has continued to excel in academics and community outreach and engagement. He works as an engagement worker with the Corner Greeter program at RBAC. He is a delightful and inspirational young Black man.

My sister- in- law Ronda Benware, along with my mother-in-law, Jeanette Davis, have faithfully served at Hamilton United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, where four generations of the Davis family have attended church. Ronda is a founding member of REST (Restore and Elevate our Spirit to Trust in God), a women’s a ministry that was developed to provide support and encouragement to women, while also inspiring them to spiritually find inner strength. Jeanette Davis has continued her leadership with the Talent Guild, which hosts the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Luncheon and and awards financial scholarships. She retired from the Compton Unified School District, where she was an educator for many years. She is an avid reader of Black history and has encouraged her children and grandchildren to read as much as possible about Black history.

Jerry Lee Davis, my precious father-in-law was the first Black district manager of the Southern California Gas Company. He encouraged everyone to be the best they could be and he provided an excellent example of a caring husband and father.

Gregory Davis, my husband and best friend has helped create so much history. In the 1990’s he developed the Rites of Passage Experience (R.O.P.E) youth development program at C.A.M.P. He is an expert on the Rites of Passage Experience program and the Kwanzaa holiday. He has been one of the local organizers of the Kwanzaa celebration in Seattle for more than 30 years. If you need to know the seven principles of Kwanzaa, ask Gregory. He currently leads the Rainier Beach Action Coalition, an organization which has helped enhance the Rainier Beach neighborhood by focusing on critical issues that affect the wellbeing of the communities there: transportation, education, economic development, housing, food justice, public safety and the arts.

Gregory has been the epitome of a good father. In addition to unconditional love, he provided his children with a wealth of Black and African history/education by constantly exposing them to the books, art, and cultural experiences of our people. Some friends nicknamed him “The Mayor of Rainier Beach”, but he is quick to remind everyone it’s “Da Mayor” (shout out to Ossie Davis in Do the Right Thing).

As you can tell from this brief Black History tribute to my family, we are making history every day and we can’t and won’t stop. Remember the scripture at the beginning? It was Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, to prosper and not harm you. To give you hope and a future.” The plan is for OUR hope and OUR future! Don’t ever forget it! Black History Month is Never Over! Face the Facts!

Enjoy FAX by history maker Rell be Free:

Civil Rights Tour – We Will Not Forget

My mind keeps playing an old gospel hymn: “Jesus I’ll never forget, what you’ve done for me. Jesus I’ll never forget, how you set me free. Jesus I’ll never forget, how you’ve brought me out. Jesus I’ll never forget, no never.”

I would like you to try to remember this song throughout your reading of my blog entries covering the civil rights tour. Just hum the tune, it will make you feel a little better. It will stir and comfort your spirit as you read about the strength and resiliency of our people as they endured brutal, unjust, and inhumane treatment in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Brave. Yes, my people were very brave, but they were hardly free, and we are still fighting today for freedom and justice. This tour brought me to tears some days, and unspeakable joy and hope on others. There are no words to describe the depth of emotions experienced on this week long tour.  Some may wonder why we would want to visit all these historical sites, including the National Memorial for Peace & Justice, a memorial to the victims of racial terror lynching. The answer is that we wanted to study the past to learn how racial inequality has impacted generations and is still impacting us. You would be amazed at how much has NOT changed as far as racism in the United States.  We were a group open to ongoing discussions on racial reconciliation and how we can learn to live better, together. So we chose to go back and study the martyrs who paved the way for us, we chose to experience just a taste of what it must have been like for them. We took this tour so we will NEVER forget. We will continue to honor our civil rights martyrs and heroes. We will keep their memories alive and we will strive to be like them, sharing our knowledge and resources. We will not forget them, NO, NEVER!!

Take a look at the first few days of our amended agenda:

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At the second meeting for the tour, each of us were given the name of a civil rights leader whose name we would carry in our heart and look for their influence during the tour. Some of the names of these “foot soldiers” were unknown to us. There were several people doing the grassroots work behind the scenes, and many did not achieve icon status like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks. There are so many who need to be given credit for their part in the civil rights movement. The foot soldiers Gregory and I were following were Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Ella Baker. Reverend Shuttlesworth (below, left) worked closely alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and was a co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Rev. Shuttlesworth was very outspoken about injustice. He survived several bombings and beatings, and even a fire hosing ordered by Eugene “Bull” Connor, Alabama Commissioner of Public Safety. In spite of all Reverend Shuttlesworth suffered, he still lived to the age of 89. Ella Baker (below, right) was a civil and human rights activist who helped form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She was one of the most influential women in the civil rights movement. Ms. Baker was a member of the NAACP and SCLC. She worked very closely with the young people in the movement. She was also a mentor to Rosa Parks.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA

On Saturday July 28th, we arrived safely in Atlanta after a somewhat bumpy flight. Needless to say, I was more than happy to be getting off the plane and on to dry land. It was hot, but I was told it was even hotter at home in Seattle. A chartered bus picked us up and we were off to the Embassy Suites near Centennial Park.

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After a quick and delicious meal at Chick fil A, we went to Centennial Park with our Pastors Harvey and Andrea Drake. We were blessed to spend time in the evening with a dear family friend, Faye Capers. She always makes time to see us when we visit Atlanta.

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Centennial Park

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Pastor Harvey Drake and wife Andrea

On Sunday, July 29th we worshipped together at Ebenezer Baptist Church, visited Dr. King’s birthplace, the King Center and his memorial burial spot. Afterwards, we had a wonderful brunch at the Atlanta Breakfast Club. While touring the grounds of Ebenezer, a very nice gentleman named Albert Brinson, greeted the group. Mr. Brinson was a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. and he was baptized at Ebenezer at the age of eight. Mr. Brinson proceeded to tell us about his friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr. He served as assistant to both Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. AND Jr. He held us captive in the hot Atlanta heat until his daughter came out from the eleven o’clock service and said, “He is supposed to be in church”! She added, “He gets great joy out of doing this”. Gregory and I wandered back in the church while the others visited MLK’s childhood home. We were able to meet the 24 year-old youth pastor who had preached at the earlier service we attended. Gregory also took a picture with one of the soloists from the choir. There is a photo included of Gregory with a statue of Kunta Kinte.

 

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Andrea having fun in the sun

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Inside the new Ebenezer Baptist Church

 

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Gregory with Ebenezer soloist

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Our group held captive by Mr. Albert Brinson, friend of Dr. King.

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Gregory with Kunta Kinte statue

 

Atlanta Breakfast Club shrimp & grits and shrimp po’ boy

Later that afternoon some of the group visited the Atlanta Civil Rights Museum. I had visited the museum two years ago, so I chose not to go again. In the evening we watched an episode of Eyes on the Prize about the civil rights movement in Alabama, followed by a discussion.

BIRMINGHAM/MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA

On Monday, July 30th we took a bus from Atlanta to Birmingham/Montgomery, Alabama. We had a walking tour and bus tour of Birmingham. We learned a lot about the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth from our tour guide, Barry. We visited the 16th St. Baptist Church, and saw the location where the four little girls were killed by a bomb on September 15, 1963. We visited Kelly Ingram Park where in May 1963 peaceful protesters (almost all of them children and high school students) were confronted with arrests, police dogs and firehoses. The park is the setting for several pieces of sculpture related to the civil rights movement. The most beautiful one in my opinion is the Four Spirits, depicting each of the four little girls preparing for the church sermon moments before the bomb exploded. At the base of the sculpture is an inscription of the name of the sermon they were to attend prior to the bombing- “A Love that Forgives.” Later that day we visited the Rosa Parks Museum where we observed a reenactment of the day (December 1, 1955) when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. There is a marker at the bus stop outside the museum where Ms. Parks boarded the bus, as a tribute to her and the success of the Montgomery bus boycott.

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Me with the 16th Street Baptist Church in the background.

 

Site of the bombing at the 16th Street Baptist Church

Barry, our Birmingham guide telling us about Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth

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Sculpture in Kelly Ingram Park dedicated to the foot soldiers of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement

 

Sculptures depicting the youth of the movement, as well as the vicious

police dogs who attacked them.

20180731_1712101231470889.jpg“Three Ministers” sculpture represents Rev. N.H Smith Jr., A.D. King & John T. Porter, who led a march in Birmingham in 1963 to support Rev. ML King, Jr., Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, and Ralph Abernathy, who had been jailed.

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Photo of The Four Spirits sculpture (credit to reneearoundtheway.com)

On Tuesday, July 31st we departed for Selma/Montgomery, and toured the National Voting Rights Museum. I was not happy that I did not get to take any pictures there, but the site guide spent the whole time giving us his personal oral history of the museum. In Selma, we met Joanne Bland, one of the survivors of the historic Bloody Sunday march, who became involved in the Voting Rights Movement in Selma at the age of 11! She gave us a wonderful tour of Selma, including taking us to the church where the historic march started, Brown Chapel A.M.E. We all picked up rocks from the small concrete area that remains where the marchers lined up and began their journey for justice. We kept the rock as a personal reminder of the sacrifices made on Bloody Sunday. A highlight today was walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of Bloody Sunday which occurred on March 7, 1965. To learn more about Joanne Bland, you can go to her website, Take A Journey, joannebland.com.

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Andrea, Gregory and Joanne Bland at the site of the Bloody Sunday march.

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Me and Joanne Bland, Bloody Sunday survivor and activist.

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Shawn & Gregory in front of sculpture at Brown Chapel, A.M.E.

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Gregory with Tony Barker (friend & member of ECBF church

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Our wonderful tour organizer Suzzanne Lacey and Joanne Bland

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Joanne Bland tells the group about Bloody Sunday. This is the area where the march began.

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Edmund Pettus Bridge

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Marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge- making our own history!

 

 

On Wednesday, August 1st we visited Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Martin Luther King, Jr’s home church from 1954 until 1960. What a beautiful experience this was!! The love that you feel when you are greeted by the docents at this church is unlike anywhere else I have visited. Every tourist is greeted with a warm and loving hug at the time they enter the church. Wanda Howard Battle, the tour director is full of God’s joy and she knows the history of the church intimately. Brenda Colvin is another tour guide, and she just happens to be a cousin of Claudette Colvin, the woman who refused to move from her seat on the bus about nine months before Rosa Parks. Claudette was never given icon status like Rosa Parks, even though she was definitely a history maker. While we were at the church, Steve, a member of our group asked Brenda Colvin if she was related to Claudette. She replied, “she is my cousin, and I am going to call her”. The call was made to Ms. Colvin, who currently lives in New York, and all of us present gave her as much love as we could through that phone call. It was a huge blessing and a miracle gift from God to talk to this  legend/icon of the civil rights movement!

 

Tour guide Wanda on the phone with civil rights legend, Claudette Colvin.

This ends the first few days of the tour. There is much more to come including the Freedom Riders Museum and a talk with one of the original freedom riders, Bernard Lafayette, The Southern Poverty Law Center, The Legacy Museum, The Equal Justice Initiative and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Stay tuned and remember to NEVER forget!

The Good Fight for Freedom

SANKOFA:

“Reach back and reclaim what is lost in order to move forward and plan for the future”

On Saturday, July 28th, my husband and I will embark on a one week civil rights tour to Atlanta and Alabama. The “Just Mercy Civil Rights Tour,” is hosted by Museum without Walls (www.museumwithoutwalls.org). Our group leader and organizer is Ms. Suzzanne Lacey.  We will be traveling with a racially diverse group of about thirty individuals, from three different churches, who are interested in expanding their knowledge of civil rights history, while exploring themes of oppression, white privilege, and mass incarceration. We will also discuss what it means to move towards racial reconciliation, especially in the era of our current administration. This is going to be an exciting and emotional experience for all of us.  I recently began reading John Lewis’ book, “Walking with the Wind”, about his experience in the Civil Rights movement.  Simply reading the opening pages, I became filled with emotion (and we have not even left Seattle yet)! In preparation for the tour, our group is reading the book, “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, which describes in detail the tragic toll of mass incarceration on African Americans and other minorities. I have to give a shout out to my son, Jerrell, who wrote a poignant spoken word piece titled, “Cell Blocks like Slave Ships (CBSS), which speaks of how African Americans have gone from being shackled in chains during slavery to being shackled in prison cell blocks at an alarming rate. A few years ago, he performed the piece live at Seattle Pacific University, sharing the stage with Bryan Stevenson. The book and the song (CBSS) encourage us to care about this new form of slavery which author Michelle Alexander calls “The New Jim Crow”.  Last weekend, I had my nose deep in John Lewis’s book, while Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, played softly in the background. As Marley sang, “these songs of freedom, all I ever have, redemption songs”, the tears slowly trickled down my face.  I was totally tuned in to John Lewis’ childhood experience of being in the middle of a storm at a very young age, having to literally walk with his family to each corner of their house the wind pulled up from the ground. As they “walked with the wind”, they kept their house from flying away.  He explains that we too, must walk with the wind, fighting together to battle racism, discrimination and every assault on our humanity.

We are excited to share in this historical tour, to learn and experience just a small part of what our people went through during the civil rights movement. It is because of their sacrifice that I am here today. I plan to share more with you as we travel to the places where Martin Luther King Jr. preached about freedom, where four little girls in Birmingham tragically lost their lives in a church bombing, where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and helped start the Montgomery bus boycott, and where blacks and whites marched together over the Edmund Pettus bridge. I hope to learn how I can continue to fight the good fight for freedom. I hope you will continue your good fight as well. In continuing this fight for freedom, I think it is important to turn our hearts to what God has to say about HOW we are to act during the fight. Sometimes, we just want to “be right” about our feelings, and forget about godliness. In Romans 12:18,  the scripture tells us “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with EVERYONE.” Martin Luther King, Jr. did get it right.  God does not give anyone, not me or you, the right to hate another person He has created. It might be a tough pill to swallow, but if we go back to the word of God, you will find it is true.

In closing, I am reminded how music has always helped to soothe and sustain our souls through our journey to freedom, so I compiled a list to sustain us on this trip. This is a short list of songs about revolution, unity, consciousness, and peace that will give us encouragement, strength and joy for our journey.  If your song of freedom is not listed, feel free to send me your song.

Songs of Freedom:

  1. Redemption Song – Bob Marley
  2. Keep on Pushin’ – The Impressions
  3. What’s Goin On – Marvin Gaye
  4. Get Up, Stand Up – Bob Marley
  5. We’re A Winner – The Impressions
  6. Keep your Head to the Sky – Earth, Wind & Fire
  7. Imagine – John Lennon
  8. Wake Up Everybody – Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes
  9. Fight the Power – Isley Brothers
  10. Fight the Power – Public Enemy
  11. Wade in the Water – Mary Mary
  12. Stand – Donnie McClurkin
  13. Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead
  14. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott Heron
  15. Livin’ For the City – Stevie Wonder
  16. Lean on Me – Bill Withers
  17. CBSS Cell Blocks Like Slaveships – Rell B Free
  18. Glory – John Legend & Common
  19. We’ve Come This Far by Faith – Albert Goodson
  20. Mississippi Goddam (Whew, forgive me Jesus!) –  Miss Nina Simone

Enjoy the video “Glory” from the movie Selma:

God Always Makes a Way

“Has your back ever been against the wall? Have you ever wanted to give up and as Marvin Gaye put it, “throw up both your hands.” When you feel you cannot take one more minute of pain, stress, workplace drama, heartache, current events, financial or health problems, that is usually the time when the Lord steps in and takes over. He makes a way for us through the storm tossed days and nights of this life.  In Genesis 18:14 a question is put to us: “Is anything too hard for God”?  The answer, “No, there is nothing too hard for the Lord”. You say, “What about poverty, sickness, broken relationships, depression and what about death”? No doubt, all of these things can bring us to a point where we (yes, me too) begin to doubt God. We ask, “Can God really take care of this?” The answer is simply, “Yes”. That IS the final answer. You don’t need a lifeline to help you with this one.

God tells us to ask anything in his name and it shall be done, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).  Even though God has told us to ask in his name, we still often forget and try to accomplish things on our own without first asking for God’s help. When we do this, we are basically telling God, “I don’t need you.”  We must learn to invite him in to help us in each and every part of our lives. This is the key to ensuring that he will make a way for us.  If we spend more time with Him and begin to fill our minds with his word, we will begin to understand more clearly that he is ALWAYS there for us.

In Isaiah 43: 18, 19, after the Lord parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass through safely and escape Pharaoh’s army, the scripture tells us:

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
 Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”

God made a way for the Israelites where there was previously no way.  When God says “do you not perceive it,”  it is almost like asking us , “don’t you understand what I am doing”? It is often our own doubt and disbelief in the power of God and what he can do in our lives that causes us periods of turmoil and pain. He made us in his image, so it makes total sense that he wants what is best for us. He wants to literally pick us up out of our grief, loneliness, and despair.  For example, I spent a lot of time lamenting the 2016 presidential election. I still do not want to fully accept that it happened. And don’t even get me started on how I felt upon discovering that a huge number of white evangelical Christians voted for our current president. Are you kidding me? I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.  I could not comprehend it.  I heard one person say, “God allowed it or it would not have happened.” Uh, you can leave my presence now. LOL. I also heard, “We went through slavery and survived, we will survive this.” Wait a minute! Just because black people made it through slavery, does not mean that it should have happened.  Just because we were resilient enough to survive as a people, does not mean that when bad things happen that affect us as a people, we should just calmly accept it.   When the election was over, I was angry and sad. I doubted if God could make a way out of my sadness and despair. But, eventually…he did! It took some time, but the sun did shine again and I felt rays of hope in my heart. I remembered what my husband used to say to our children when they were unhappy about something. He would say, “while you’re at it, don’t forget to count your blessings.” It was an encouragement, most often to my son, that there was always more good things happening in our lives than bad.

God made a way for me out of my season of lamenting by continuing to shower me with his joy, love, favor, and multiple blessings. I could look at my family and friends, and be reminded daily how God always makes a way. I see many signs around me that God is making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  My family and friend’s lives are flourishing and they are blessing others in their spheres of influence. They are experiencing many miracles of God. For some, its healing and for others, restoration. He is making dreams come true, he is promoting, he is blessing financially, and he is calling some to ministry.  If we take time to recognize it, He is clearly working on our behalf. His plan for us is still:  “To prosper and not harm you, to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

Here are some recent real life examples of God making a way:

My son, Jerrell, released a new CD, Nu Growth and in May 2018 he will launch a local tour featuring himself and other aspiring spoken word/rap artists.

WA-BLOC, Washington Building Leaders of Change, an organization Jerrell is a member of, was granted approximately 175,000.00 from the City’s Department of Education and Early Learning to run Freedom Schools for the next two years.

My daughter Kaila and her husband Ken are leading praise and worship at Rainier Avenue Church, and both are members of the International Praise Band worship team. They are spreading the gospel with their beautiful style of worship.

Kaila and Ken recently moved back into their home, after being forced to move temporarily due to mold.  Their strong faith and love for each other helped get them through this stressful time.

My best friend, Anita Crawford-Willis has served her first year as a Seattle Municipal Court Judge.

My husband Gregory changed careers, leaving Casey Family Programs after thirteen years to become Managing Strategist for the Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC).

My niece Danyelle, who has a B.S. in Animal Science is employed in her area of expertise at Charles River Solutions, and was recently promoted to laboratory technician providing pathology support.

My friend Freddy Robinson, underwent brain surgery and we are praying for his full recovery (Pray for him, please).  His wife, Diana has been devoted to him as he has faced this health challenge for ten years. She still works and she still laughs, even through tears.

My friend Becca, is fighting cancer with strong faith and courage.  This sister is a warrior…Pray for her full recovery.

My friend David Jones, an evangelist and musician was diagnosed a few years ago with Alzheimers disease.  His wife Daphne is devoted and full of faith. Her strength is amazing!

My nephew and niece Mark and Anne Nsimbi, celebrated the birth of their daughter, Namuli. She is so wonderful and she has brought so much joy to the whole family!

My friend, Mekka celebrated the birth of her first child, Aidan. He is a handsome baby boy and a true miracle!

My son’s girlfriend, Darozyl, received a 16,000.00 scholarship towards earning her masters degree in education.

My pastor’s wife, Andrea, celebrated nine years of being healed from an aneurism and stroke.

My brother in law J.D., was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but this has caused our family to become more intense in our prayer life, and to count on the Lord to provide for J.D. in all that concerns him.

I celebrated five years of being healed after having a stroke in 2013.

I could go on and on, but I think you understand. There are so many ways that God provides for us and makes a way for us daily. We have to take time to recognize that He is always working for our good. Even if it seems like “our back is against the wall, and it looks as if it’s over”, He is right there, for you and me!

On Easter Sunday 2018, our choir sang a song titled, “You Made a Way”, by gospel artist Travis Greene. The chorus of the song states: “You move mountains, you cause walls to fall. With your power, perform miracles. There is nothing that’s impossible, and we’re standing here only because you made a way.” What has God done for you? What mountain has he moved that maybe you forgot to thank him for? What mountain or wall is in your life right now that you need God’s help with?  Is it just believing in his power to help you through a situation? Is it that broken relationship with your family member that you still want him to heal? Maybe it is a health problem, or an addiction. Whatever your mountain or wall is, pray, trust God and ask Him to make a way to move your mountain and bring down your wall! He is still the God of miracles and he always makes a way for his children.  Please leave a comment or reflection on God’s ability to make a way. God bless you.

Enjoy the video of Travis Greene’s “You Made a Way”.

 

 

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