Religion & Spirituality:Christianity
Today we’re airing a special episode to coincide with the first day of Black History Month, although you can listen on any day of the year. Our four guests today are intentionally from the Black diaspora, which Wikipedia describes as a “worldwide collection of communities descended from African peoples.” They were all recorded separately.
Here’s the outline for the episode, including the bios of the guests, except for the interview which you’lll hear later, then we’ll get started. There will be a prayer, three poems, an interview, two more poems, and another prayer.
The Rev. Rowena Kemp, priest in charge at Grace Church, Hartford, will read a confession that’s part of the recommended liturgy for Episcopalians in Connecticut on February 10, a Sunday that was chosen by its members at their Annual Convention last fall to be a Day for Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation, part of a Season of Racial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation. Rowena will close the episode with a prayer as well, reading a collect from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.
In addition to serving as Priest-in-Charge at Grace Church in Hartford, Rowena is chaplain for the national Girls Friendly Society USA. She is a member of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut’s Standing Committee and numerous other groups, and serves as co-leader of the Episcopal Church’sRacial Healing, Justice, and Reconciliation Ministry Network. She has a Master's in Clinical Research Administration and a Master's of Public Health, Health Policy and Management from New York Medical College. Before her work with the church, Rowena worked as a program manager for Yale University School of Medicine and is skilled in molecular biology, biochemical research, DNA sequencing, and biomarkers. Rowena graduated with an M.Div from Yale in 2013 and was ordained that year. She then served as a priest for the Middlesex Area Cluster Ministry, then assistant rector at Trinity on the Green in New Haven, and has been priest-in-charge at Grace since 2016.
Dr. Eleanor Q. Tignor, a retired English professor who organizes an annual African American Read-in at her church, Trinity on the Green, New Haven, when people from the church and community take turns reading from African-American literature. She will read three poems, two in the beginning and one at the end. The first is, “On Being Brought From Africa to America.” It’s from the 1770s and was written by an enslaved woman. The second is “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the original poem by James Weldon Johnson that was put to music and is known as the “Negro National Anthem.” The third is by Dr. Maya Angelou and called, “Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem.”
Dr. Tignor is a retired English professor, Professor Emerita, of LaGuardia Community College (City University of New York). There she taught African American Literature and other English courses for 29 years, as a follow up to having taught at two colleges in Baltimore, Maryland, namely Morgan State College (now University) from which she received her B.A. in English and Coppin State College (now University). She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Howard University, Washington, D.C. Both graduate dissertations are on African American fiction writers. Active over the years in professional organizations in English, she served as president of the historically black College Language Association and on various committees of the National Council of Teachers of English. It was as a member of the Black Caucus of the NCTE that she became interested in introducing the African American Read-In at Trinity.
Our interview today is with Enola G. Aird, Esq., an activist mother and lawyer, who talks about the Community Healing Network, which she founded in 2006 at her church, St. Luke’s, New Haven. CHN has continued to expand and now has a global impact. It has a visionof "a world in which all Black people have moved beyond surviving to flourishing, and are enjoying life in all its fullness, in body, mind, and spirit" and a mission"to mobilize Black people across the African Diaspora to heal from the trauma caused by centuries of anti-Black racism, to free ourselves of toxic stereotypes, and to reclaim our dignity and humanity as people of African ancestry."
Enola G. Aird describes herself as an activist mother. A former corporate lawyer, she has worked at the Children’s Defense Fund, leading its violence prevention initiative and serving as acting director of its Black Community Crusade for Children; is a past chair of the Connecticut Commission on Children; and was a visiting scholar at the Judge Baker Children’s Center in Boston. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Barnard College and earned her law degree from Yale University. She was born in the Republic of Panama, of Caribbean heritage, and attributes much of her vision and passion for the movement for emotional emancipation to stories passed down in her family about her great-grandfather, Samuel Alleyne, a loyal follower of Marcus Garvey.
Our fourth guest is Marc-Yves Regis, a Haitian-born photojournalist, author and poet, who will read us one of his poems giving tribute to Rosa Parks, and another poem about his personal experience, which he titled, “My Face.”
Marc was born in Haiti and spent his earliest years there, learning to love photography; he immigrated to this country and became a citizen in 1996. He earned a degree in photography at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and worked as a photojournalist for the Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times, and the Hartford Courant, and as a freelancer. He is the author of five books about the people of Haiti and their ongoing struggles. He is also the founder and director of Camp Hispaniolathat provides annual summer camps in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, serving over 150 at each site. He frequently works as a photographer for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, covering many of its significant diocesan occasions and events of the past nearly two decades, and also provides major photography for its annual magazine.
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