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Friday, April 26, 2024

Dear Hannah: Mission Statement Part 5 - Dunleith's "Black Girl Magic"

Dear Hannah,
In January 2024, your school (Dunleith Elementary School) won our school district's Reading Bowl for perhaps the first time ever.
That's a great story ... but it is part of a bigger story ... one that I do not know how to tell completely. 
So, I will tell you what I can.
Let me show you something ...



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"Mission Statement (Part 5 - Dunleith's "Black Girl Magic")"
By Derrick Brown

"DBKB8NC2021010 036. Mission Statement (Episode 5 - Dunleith's Black Girl Magic) DB Edited Transcript (4-26-2024).txt"

Hey, folks.

This video is purposed to record my thoughts as notes for a story that I'm building ... that I don't know how to tell in full just yet.

So I will tell what I am able to tell.

As you can see in the picture there ... my daughter's school did a thing.

About a week ago, they won their district level reading bowl ... a reading bowl named for Helen Ruffin ... a librarian from the Dekalb County school system ... who put this contest together as a test or a measure of reading comprehension ... based on all the books that were nominated for this Georgia book award, whose name escapes me ... but I understand the premise of the contest ... and I like contests like this.

I've seen our daughter prepare arduously for this for quite some time ... and it paid off.

Now this contest was held at our high school about 10 days ago.

I was able to see our daughter right before she went into the competition.

But since I'm teaching in my classroom (during the school day), I was not able to see the competition.

But I spent a lot of time last weekend digesting this good news ... that's been a long time coming.

But it's also long overdue.

I was overwhelmed - not just from my joy of seeing our baby girl do well and help her teammates do well.

I was overjoyed and overwhelmed by the amount of attention their victory received. We're talking about congratulations from our superintendent ... from the principals of all the elementary schools in our district ...

... don't get me wrong.

Our school community has a deep story ... and I know a lot of it ... and I don't know even more of it.

But the congratulations alone were quite telling ... and beyond the scope of what I'm trying to do here.

Suffice it to say, everybody's got their eyes on this.

I sat my daughter down and tried to tell her that at least *some* of the reason why is ... maybe her school's not supposed to do this kind of thing.

They defeated our district's magnet school.

Now the story of that school is beyond the scope of what I'm trying to accomplish here today, but you get it ... if the school that's seldom won and is not supposed to win defeated the magnet school... people see that ... there are people that love that ... and probably a lot of people who are not crazy about that.

And perhaps those are the people making the greatest effort to cheer.

Remember, I'm not fooled so easily, and I am seldom fooled twice.

So I see y'all.

Anyway ... we're not here for all that.

I want to show you a few pictures and videos that I've got queued up here.

[show photo 1]

Yeah, now, that's ... that's my jam right there.

That's Black Girl Magic People.

That's our winning team.

There's a story behind each of these young ladies.

One of these young ladies is my daughter.

I will not plot spoil here ... she's the one who kinda looks like me.

One of my neighbors is in that photo.

I won't identify her.

... and one of my daughter's classmates in the dual language immersion program (is in the photo).

That program has a lot to do with the excellence that you see coming out of my daughter's school.

Imagine learning your academic subjects in another language ... and doing that every day for a school year ... that's going to build powerful language skills ... (then) those language skills build analysis skills ... self-expression skills ... numeracy skills ... and in multiple languages ... that's gonna make a group of young ladies powerful in a reading bowl situation ... most definitely ... most definitely.

That picture is iconic, and took me back through time to a place in our history that I'll get to in a second.

But here, I want to show you this video.

This is when this whole thing is starting to make sense to me about its magnitude and its capacity to uplift and validate people who have been downtrodden, despised, and rejected ... folks, I can't put it any other way.

Watch this little impromptu parade that they had at school when the young ladies returned ... this is deep, man.

I want you to look at the kids in the hallway ... look at the participants ... look at the joy, man!

That's joy.

That's the principal of the school.

No words necessary there, man, no words necessary.

That woman is living her best life right?

And there's another great shot.

Great photo ... coaches are present there ... along with the officials from the reading bowl.

So next up is the regional competition that's going down on Saturday, February 10.

So we've got to dust off our congratulations and kind of put that to the side.

We will never diminish that accomplishment right?

But we've got to set it aside ... get our minds right for this regional competition and stand on business at that one.

That's what they're working on now.

My job is to tell the story.

Tell the story I shall.

So I mentioned a little while ago that that "Black Girl Magic" photo that I referred to connected me to a history that I have some familiarity with.

History is no mystery - right?

History is the story of people and the patterns of those people as they maneuver through life ... through victories ... defeats ... advances, and retreats.

Through it all they grow in their capacity for grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

They grow in intelligence ... they grow in humility.

They grow in their ability to tell their own story.

That's why it's called *his*tory.

So anyway, this is a photo - (circa) 1967.

This is the Texas Texas Western University basketball team holding the 1967 NCAA basketball men's championship.

They won March Madness back in 1967 ... and they defeated the Kentucky Wildcats, the perennial NCAA tournament champion.

(The) Kentucky Wildcats, whose colors are blue and white ... if I'm not mistaken, you refer to folks with rich historical traditions ... you refer to them as "blue bloods" ... for all I know, "blue bloods" is a phrase coined to pay homage to the Kentucky Wildcats ... for all I know.

But at any rate - I remember Kentucky playing an all-white starting lineup during the tournament.

I remember Texas Western playing an all-black lineup during the tournament.

Now, this picture is worth a thousand words.

If you're analyzing for demographics ... I see 6 black people ... say it like that.

Now, my research says at least one of those black people is Latino.

You will see 6 non-black players there.

I'm told that some of those non-black players are also Latinos.

So this may be the most multicultural team I know of from 1967.

That is noteworthy, (though) I can't establish any factual basis behind any of that.

I'm just going by what I've read.

So you've got a multicultural basketball team that decides to start an all-black lineup in the tournament that will decide it all, and they mess around and they beat the perennial NCAA basketball champions with an all-white starting lineup ... it shouldn't surprise anybody who's listening that this event precipitated the recruiting of black basketball players to a sport that they now dominate.

Everything starts somewhere.

I think the recruiting of black basketball players became a thing at predominantly white schools after this.

And look at where we are with that now.

But that's beyond the scope of this story.

I've been showing this picture to my young men's group.

... Sat down and showed it to my daughter ... and I told her that her "Black Girl Magic" brought me back to this magic from 1967.

So I sat her down and told her what I'm going to share with you here now.

1967. Let's talk about 1967 for a second.

America's in Vietnam.


Martin Luther King's going to be assassinated.

Jane Elliot is going to do her social experiment "blue eyes, brown eyes" (in Riceville, Iowa).


Malcolm X is assassinated.

The Voting Rights Act is passed in 1965 to protect and safeguard voting freedoms for people of color.

The Civil Rights Movement sees some of its greatest advances and retreats between 1960 and 1965.

There's a whole lot going on in our world.

Martin Luther King experiences this shift, if you will.

Influenced by his opposition to the Vietnam war begins this "Poor People's Campaign" ... which you will never hear anybody talk about during black history month or in honor of his birthday y'all ... because all we want to do is dream.

We don't want to know that Martin Luther King got a little disillusioned with that dream and the reality that he continued to face as he fought for a people's true freedom.

But at any rate, there's a lot going on in 1967.

Matter of fact ... yeah, that led me back to this picture, man.

This is the 1967 Marietta High School football team who won the GHSA (Georgia High School Association) State Championship for the first time in 1967.

And it just so happens ... y'all, this is no "coinkidink".

Marietta fully integrated its schools in 1967.

It's no "coinkidink", y'all ... there's a lot here that I have to check out and investigate.

That's why these are notes and not anything that I'm trying to publish.

I wouldn't be trying to publish any of this, but it is necessary and noteworthy.

Here's what I've got to find out about this picture.

Now I see number 16.

I see number 34.

I see number 11, and I know that they're there in this picture.

Because it's OK for them to come to Marietta High School now in 1967.

Remember Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas ... the landmark Supreme Court case?

That's decided in 1954 ... brilliantly argued by Thurgood Marshall.

(in 1967) it's been a long time since the Supreme Court has said, "... hey, we've got to integrate these schools folks, you know. You got to do the right thing, and we're going to give you some time."

Well, a lot of folks took a lot of time, but there (may have been) some "impetus" for Marietta to integrate in 1967 ... and they may have reaped some benefit and reward from it.

But what I don't know is, well, how much did number 16, number 34, and number 11 contribute?

How much did number 5 and number 87 contribute?

See, I'm sitting here reading a roster of the players, so I know that not everybody's in this picture.

This picture is from the Marietta Daily Journal, our local newspaper.

So once I know that that's where the picture's from, I know that picture's (likely) worth a thousand words, and there were probably thousands of words omitted as well.

Number 5's not in that picture.

Number 87's not in that picture.

I know relatives of both of them, so it's probably a good idea for me to go and talk to them ... and talk to them about the roles they had on this team.

Why they're not in that picture ... there's a lot to learn here, folks, but ... bottom line ... bottom line ... this historical rabbit trail (if you would) comes full circle to this moment that my child experienced.

And it's my job now to help her understand what all of this means, and why it's important to look back, right?

So you have a clear view of the rear view ... so that you know where you've been ... and where you headed to.


Grace and Peace.

Thank you for listening.


About Derrick Brown (Standup Storyteller)



I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

I am a “standup storyteller.”

I fuse rap, spoken word (poetry), oration (traditional public speaking), singing, and teaching into messages of hope, healing, and change that I write, direct, and produce to help people who help people.

Everything must change - and stay changED.

Tradition begins and ends with change.

Change begins with me and the renewing of my mind ... then continues through efforts to effect small-group discipleship (equipping others to equip others) with audiences that respect and embrace mentoring, mediation, and problem solving as tools of change.

I am the product of my mentoring relationships, peacemaking (and peacekeeping), and problem-solving ability.

My education began when I finished school.

After school, I enrolled in a lifelong curriculum that includes classes in ministry, entrepreneurship, stewardship, literacy, numeracy, language, self-identity, self-expression, and analysis / synthesis.

My projects execute a ministry that has evolved from wisdom earned through lessons learned.

I want to share this wisdom to build teams of "triple threat" fellows - mentors, mediators, and problem solvers.

We will collaborate in simple, powerful ways that allow us to help people who help people.

I now know that power is work done efficiently (with wise and skillful use of resources, interests, communication, and expertise).

Copyright © 2024 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.



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