Archive for activists

A Salute to Honor Miriam Makeba – Mama Africa

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, Mother Africa, Spotlight with tags , , , , on June 6, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

An inspirational woman who was exiled from the wrongs of apartheid South Africa and went on to receive a Grammy for Best Folk Recording, be a delegate to the United Nations, continue to work as a human rights activist, and be known for her goodwill. Miriam Makeba suffered a heart attack while performing “Pata Pata” in a human rights concert in Italy. She died the next day,November 10, 2008, at the age of 76.  Miriam married four times. She had one daughter, Bongi Makeba, and two grandchildren.


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Events in Her Life

  • In 1959, she performed with her future husband Hugh Masekela in the King Kong musical.
  • In London she met Harry Belafonte who was instrumental in gaining her entry and exposure in the United States. Together they released An Evening with Belafonte / Makeba, an album about the treatment of native South Africans under apartheid.
  • In 1963, Makeba testified before the United Nations Committee Against  Apartheid causing her citizenship and right to return to be revoked. Her music was banned in apartheid South African.
  • She married civil rights activist and Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael. Her record deals and tours were cancelled in reaction to this marriage.
  • In 1985, Makeba’s daughter dies.
  • In 1986, Makeba won the Dag Hammarskjold Medal.
  • In 1987, Makeba toured with Paul Simon and published her autobiography My Story.

A segment of the poem written by Dr. Don Mattera  in honor of Miriam Makeba’s appointment as South Africa’s Ambassador to the African Continent in 2003.

This song,
This fragment of a nation rejoicing
This eulogy of love for a revered Matriarch,
Is for you, Miriam Makeba
Voice of Africa’s vision and its deepest dreams

We salute you fairest African Queen
You, who wept against the indifferent moon,
traversing the shores of strange lands
standing attention to foreign flags
alienated, tolerated nomad of the struggle
Marching to the sound of distant drums
Sleeping in the dark folds of an exiled sunset
Waking in glow of a challenging day
You, Miriam, broke bread with revolutionaries
And was honored by kings

Ambassador,
Let your sterling voice speak
For all the nations of the Earth,
Speak for Africa’s people
Hapless and hesitant, though they stand
At the portals of a New Beginning,
A moment of Resurrection and Renewal;
Speak as only you can speak
From the deep sap of your beautiful being.

Makeba, we love you…

16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

Posted in HISTORY, Humanity, North America with tags , , on February 15, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Civil right meetings were often held in churches in the early 60’s. The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama drew national attention as being a gathering point for demonstrations. On September 15, 1963, the church was bombed for this reason. Five young girls were in the basement ladies room preparing for the Youth Day activities. At 10:22 a.m. a blast that shook the entire church killed four of them.

Denise McNair, 11, Addie Mae Collins, 14, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14, were found in the mist of the crumbled bricks and shattered glass. The fifth girl, Sarah Collins, 12, staggered out of calling for her sister.

News of the bombing provoked riots and that lead to the deaths of two more youths. Dr. Martin Luther King delivered the funeral oration. Dr. King said, “These children-unoffending, innocent and beautiful-were the victims of one of the most vicious, heinous crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.”

NAACP Celebrates 100 Years

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, HISTORY, North America with tags , on February 7, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

February 12th commemorates the founding of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, the NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

On February 3rd, 2010, the Library of Congress honored the NAACP with a new online exhibition and symposium of almost 70 heirlooms from the NAACP’s 100-year history.

On February 26, 2010, the NAACP will celebrate with a VIP breakfast, a keynote address, and a reflection of 20th century events.

“For more than a century, courageous men, women, and children have dedicated and some cases given their lives in the fight for freedom, justice, and equality for all”, said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.

Stay updated at

http://www.naacp.org

Remembering MLK

Posted in Awareness, HISTORY, North America with tags , , on January 23, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of an awareness that most people do not remember. In his “It’s a Dark Day in Our Nation” speech, on why he was against the Vietnam War, he called attention to the applause he received in his non-violent response to the violence he met on the sit-ins, marches, and Freedom rides. He pointed out the inconsistency in praising his rejection of resorting to violence to make a change while the nation resorted to violence to make a change. He spoke of a “revolution of values” that will cause question of the fairness and justice of a system that did not recognize a nation that had fought for their independence.

People remember Dr. King’s Dream, yet they forget what he had proclaimed was needed to achieve it. Dr. King did not say we will wake up one day to his dream. He distinctly said more than once that a “revolution of values” was needed in order to find a “just way of settling differences.”  Dr. King wanted us to follow through on the revolution that Western nations had initiated.  A revolutionary spirit is not something solely belonging to 1776, Marxism, or communism. He wanted to see a revolutionary spirit rise to rid the world of “hostility, poverty, racism, and militarism.”

Dr. King pointed out how more money is spent on killing someone during a war than is spent on feeding someone during peace. Dr. King was not a dreamer. He had a plan. He had wisdom and awareness.

photo by Dick DeMarsico