Omera Brownlee Mahon
“I pick Oprah Winfrey. I think after all the adversities that she has had to overcome, she still holds her head up high and she still continues to work on herself. Even after all the accomplishments that she’s made, she still realizes that no one person is perfect and she still strives for success.”
“Dr. King -he was the embodiment of the spiritual and intellectual qualities that were needed to transform America into a country that was worthy of the sacrifices made by our ancestors. His relationship with God gave him the faith and the courage to move forward with a agenda that could be embraced by all people of goodwill. His movement and his marches allowed us to meet our divine dynasty.”
Solomon Williams Jr
“In all honesty, I can’t say that there is one individual in black history that overshadows the other. The question is a little bit more deeper than that for me. I believe, historically, any individual that has decided consciously or sub-consciously to use that adversity to empower people, whether it be economically, spiritually or physically, I believe that shows the richness in our culture. It’s not necessarily one individual. It might take one to start a movement. Like the saying’ it takes a million to move a mountain’, it takes a lot of people to be involved in the movement. I have a lot of favorites: Muhammad Ali, John Henrik Clarke, Malcolm X, and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. I like the writers, so I can’t say one individual is going to put it in a nutshell for me.”
Eugene Jenkins III
“I think John Henrik Clarke opened up my mind as far as what he went through. This has been within the last five years because I didn’t know that much about him. Prior to that, I most admired Malcolm X and Dr. King. But I saw a special on TV about Clark that Wesley Snipes narrated. When Clarke was younger in school, he was told he had no history. He couldn’t accept that. So I went into the libraries to do research. Though I was in my late 20s, it kind of reminded me of what we as black people need to do when we find out about our history. You have to do research to find those avenues and opportunities. Don’t let anybody discourage you. His life was built from what he was told. He had been through a lot of things that I was never told, even though they were experienced by my grandparents. But I could look at timelines in his life to be able to go back into the African culture. It turned the light bulb of my mind on even more. I went to college, and it was amazing how I didn’t know a lot of my history.”
“Zumbi of Palmares – he was the leader of a independent African community in Brazil in the 16th century called Palmares. Palmares was a community established by enslaved Africans who fled the plantations and went into the mountains of Brazil to establish independent communities. From that community, they waged war against the institution of slavery, freeing other Africans in the process. They fought against the Portuguese and Dutch. Zumbi was its last and most famous leader.”
“Queen Nzingha, because she was able to hold off the Portuguese for so long – I think it was like 40 years. Her being a woman is an example for all African women that you don’t necessarily have to be a man to protect your people. As a warrior Queen from Angola, she set an example for all of us women to live up to – and men also.”
Queen Nzingha lived during the 17th century in the kingdom of Ndongo, now known as Angola, located in South West African. She was able to fight off the Portuguese who were trying to conquer Angola. She died in 1663 at the age of 80.
John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998), a nationalist, pan-Africanist, author, poet and historian is one of the most significant leaders in the American Afro-centric movement of the late ’60s, early ’70s.