refuge · rest

sewsa moments and beyond

One of the most courageous souls wore this t-shirt at SEWSA.

The Southeastern Women’s Studies Association (SEWSA) meeting in Oxford, Mississippi,  was absolutely wonderful.

Muddy water above Memphis as the plane landed.

I feel more comfortable about my ongoing interest in Zora Neale Hurston’s time in Miami during the winter and spring of 1950 as presented in paper shared there last week.

The words of SEWSA 2019 Opening Keynote Speaker E. Patrick Johnson, former student of my UA colleague Trudier Harris, pushed our thinking on the possibilities of pain felt by the marginalized who meet at various intersections.


I also feel encouraged after meeting so many scholars, among them graduate and undergraduate students, who provide proof of the needed empathy we should all have for each other in these tense times.


Among the highlights of my time in Mississippi were meeting up with old friends including Francine and Bill Luckett of Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Screen Shot 2019-03-12 at 9.13.51 PM.pngWe first met years ago when I was writing a news story. It was cool meeting Fran’s cousin Doug and his daughter Leslie, too. I also got to see in Jackson, Mississippi my dear childhood friend Beth Hegab and meeting her husband and the lovely young life in their charge. We are rooting for more beautiful days ahead for you, little one.IMG_4397.JPG

The trip to Jackson was not complete without stopping by to see the carport where the World War II vet and Civil Rights activist Medger Evers was slain in 1963. It was a rainy morning. We sat and thought for a bit here. May Medger continue to rest in peace.


May he rest in the sort of peace still in reach if our random meetings with perfect strangers on the Mississippi Sound are any indicator. Such meetings took place on the place where a “wade-in” in protest of segregated beaches was once held.



Being here in coastal Mississippi, my mom and grandparents’ home state, made me miss my family and my home in Florida. As I press on this school year, I know I do so because I stand on the shoulders of them and so many others who came before me. I endeavor to make them all proud.


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Meanwhile, I was humored by the hotel soap, which was just perfect for a historian.

I will return to campus reenergize. So glad to have met so many incredible people in recent days including my SEWSA panel co-presenter Dr. Don Unger, University of Mississippi Assistant Professor of Writing, whose work on the sewing African American women-foot soldiers draws necessary light on Mississippi’s “poor people” circa 1960s.

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Per my Twitter account (and hardly representative of the quotations in my notebook and on scratch paper), here are some of my favorite quotations from SEWSA panels are below:

“Time to fully engage this work…peace-safety/security-nonviolence-religion  …Someone understanding my conflict.” – San Antonio graduate student and activist (and my soror) Shenee Simon

“Let people craft themselves”…”Do things that don’t pay us” via University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill undergraduate Chichi Zhu  on .

We had to redraw the path of what we’d been taught was southern…I didn’t haul my hope out of thin air. – Minnie Bruce Pratt

“What’s revealed about the culture in which we dramatize contradictions in identity?” Yes! Elizabeth Venell, still thinking about your paper on Catfish. Will watch w/ critical eye very soon

Deciding to be to create the future…How do we strengthen each other?-Minnie Bruce Pratt

My SEWSA shirt that I shall happily wear on campus after Spring Break.

I will close with these lyrics by Stevie “Did you know that true love asks for nothing” Wonder. I am listening to these words now as I continue to unwind from a whirlwind spring break. It is a perfect way to began the rest of the semester (operative word “rest”) and continue this 52nd year of being on planet earth and oh, yes, there is a new hairstyle on my head to lift spirits of a dear friend and  to pay homage to all the women in my family who look to “Auburn Avenue” (as my dear friend Tina McElroy Ansa, a Spelman grad, calls it) to fight the gray.


PS Am Civ students….World War II is up next. Gender, Race and Urban Space students, Dolen Perkins-Valdez’ Wench is up next. Let’s do it. Six weeks to go.

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