For your Consideration
Outstanding Literary Work - Debut Author!
A word about
Seasons of Sisterhood
Category – Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author
Cynthia F. Reaves
JGA Press Publishing spent some time with Debut Author, Cynthia F. Reaves discussing her book, Seasons of Sisterhood…here are her thoughts on the possibility of earning a nomination for a prestigious NAACP Image Award:
Question:Why should a book of meditations inspired by a sorority be considered for an NAACP Image Award?
Answer: If you view Seasons of Sisterhood as merely a book of meditations, I daresay that you are missing the point of this work and its direct connection to the stated purposes of the NAACP Image Awards.
The NAACP states that in order to understand the importance of the Image Awards, it has to be placed in a social and historical context. Ideas create the belief systems that control societal actions and shape our thinking on important issues.
Seasons of Sisterhood, is an historical look at the pivotal role that Black Greek-lettered organizations played in the civil rights movement by moving our nation from a position of racial, human and social intolerance through the political struggles which are leading to social and economic parity. The material is presented through inspirational meditations, inspired by African American Greek-letter organization leaders which are used as a device to connect the issues which were important to our community at that time to the current climate of social injustice and economic disenfranchisement that currently impacts our community.
The meditations contained in Seasons of Sisterhood are intended to make the work approachable by the reader. The meditations inspire the reader to action by showing that the same struggles that African Americans faced in the past continue today.
Question: Can you provide an example of what you mean by a “connection” to the current climate of social injustice and economic disenfranchisement?
Answer: Absolutely! We know that in the years following the emancipation of slaves, steps were taken to suppress African American progress through laws and practices which denied us equal rights under the law. Poll taxes and reading tests were but a few of the devices that were used to suppress our vote. Today, the means of voter suppression continues unabated and disguised in a much more sophisticated manner.
We know that following the end of slavery, many former slaves stayed on as tenant farmers for their former masters. However, the landowners devised ways to keep these sharecroppers in a virtual slave state by functioning as the only means of access to goods and services. Consider the following quote from Seasons of Sisterhood:
As these articles are purchased, a certain amount is deducted by the overseer or rider, from the tenant farmers’ wages so that through exorbitant prices, and unchallenged accounts, at the end of the year, when the crops are sold and paid for, the Negro instead of receiving wages in money, is often in debt to the plantation.
Dorothy B. Ferebee, M.D., 1935
10th International President
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
Seasons of Sisterhood, page 137
Contrast this quote from 1935 to the November 2014 announcement by Walmart in which the corporation states that it will no longer provide certain health benefits to its employees, while at the same time announcing the establishment of a health care insurance company which employees can use to obtain health insurance. Walmart went from providing health care to charging for health care insurance. A large number of Walmart workers rely upon public assistance to survive. Coupled with the recent decision to charge for health care, Walmart workers exist in a type of “slave state” working condition – one which makes it difficult to obtain economic freedom.
Question: Why a Sorority/Fraternal Organization as the inspiration for your meditations?
Answer: The history of Black Greek-letter organizations is that they provided a place of refuge for men and women on college campuses, where, in some cases, they were made to feel unwanted. These organizations were comprised of college-educated men and women who formed ready networks of community leaders who could be quickly assembled and galvanized in pursuit of goals which benefited the African American community at large.
The materials from these organizations mirror the events of the day, the speeches, letters and commentary that Black Greek-letter organization leaders reflect the struggles of the time and the desire to incite our community to action. Also, these leaders demonstrated far-sightedness in their communications. Consider the following quote from Seasons of Sisterhood:
In all of our communities we find some of our leaders who forget the real interests of our own group and become instruments for furthering the exploitation of Negroes.
Beulah Whitby, 1938
11th International President
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
Seasons of Sisterhood, page 138