Photographer Cunningham (Crowns) and popular novelist Briscoe (Big Girls Don't Cry, etc.) honor 50 women, more than half over 60, in this collection of stunning photographs and inspiring personal recollections. While a few have officially retired, none of these women can be described as retiring. "I'm having a wonderful time being exactly who I am at the age that I am," says one, reflecting the general sentiments of this diverse group, which includes a financial consultant, reading specialist, sign language interpreter, tax lawyer, real estate broker and a bookstore owner (Clara Villarosa). Some are familiar (e.g., Ruby Dee, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Nikki Giovanni, S. Epatha Merkerson), but most are not. Several are involved with powerful institutions little known outside the black community—sororities, women's clubs and service organizations. Tucked into their succinct narratives is a surprising abundance of practical advice about maneuvering between the worlds they have survived and mastered (corporate, military, entertainment, government, entrepreneurial). Some recall hard knocks, having faced deaths, depression and divorce, cancer, a child with Down syndrome and teenaged pregnancy, but all acknowledge the helping hands of parents, grandparents, teachers and mentors. This book will have special resonance for black women, but offers its inspirational message to all. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Jewels: 50 Phenomenal Black Women Over 50by Michael Cunningham, Connie Briscoe
Photographer Michael Cunningham (coauthor of Crowns) and author Connie Briscoe, a New York Times bestselling novelist, profile 50 women over the age of 50 who have been remarkably successful--whether in reaching the top of the corporate ladder, finding fame in politics or the arts, or raising a son to be proud of a single mother--and reveal the ways that they have prevailed despite daunting obstacles. Their stories are paired with Cunningham's intimate portraits of the women.
JEWELS includes well-known and little-known women alike, from teachers and executives to artists, authors, and entertainers. Among the celebrities profiled in the book are Ruby Dee, Eleanor Holmes Norton, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Marion Wright Edelman. Coauthor Connie Briscoe also appears here as one of the featured Jewels, telling her inspiring personal story. World-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator Nikki Giovanni contributes an original poem to the book.
- Little, Brown and Company
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Hachette Digital, Inc.
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 2 MB
Read an Excerpt
By Michael Cunningham Connie Briscoe
Little, Brown and CompanyCopyright © 2007 Michael Cunningham and Connie Briscoe
All right reserved.
PrefaceWhen Michael Cunningham and I first came up with the idea of featuring black women age fifty and older in a photo-essay book, we both knew immediately that this was long overdue. I naturally thought of my mother and grandmothers, three women who defied enormous obstacles during a time when racism and sexism were anything but subtle and carved out rich lives of service, hard work, and dedication to their families, often without recognition or reward. My mother opted out of being featured in Jewels, but she is here with me in spirit, along with many other deserving women. Reluctantly, I myself agreed to be featured in these pages when friends pointed out that I fit the profile and had a story worth telling. Perhaps in revealing a bit about myself I can soften the line that usually separates an author from her subjects.
Michael and I decided to include celebrities and noncelebrities, and thus we have women here who successfully reared children as single mothers as well as women who fought tire-lessly for justice and opportunity in our schools, communities, and theaters. These are fierce, gutsy women who bucked the odds during especially trying times, and I feel honored that they've allowed me to help them tell their stories. I was also excited about the opportunity to work with Michael, who is an amazingphotographer. We interviewed and photographed the women in Jewels over the course of nearly a year and a half, between the spring of 2005 and the summer of 2006. The age given with each profile is the age at the time of the interview.
As I began talking to the women, a few things stood out immediately. First, they give a lot of credit to their upbringing for making them who they are. Whether raised by a single mother or father, both parents, grandparents, or someone else, they found a loving, stable home with someone who taught them to aim for the stars. Second, although many incidents of racism, sexism, and discrimination are described throughout the pages of this book-some of them blatant and others more subtle-the women never viewed the incidents as insurmountable. Whether fifty or eighty, on the stage or in the boardroom, whether for themselves, their children, or for the world, these women seized opportunities when they were available and created them when they weren't. They are all thoroughly modern women who have taken the promise of America and made it a reality for themselves and others.
Could it be that we've come far enough that black women can be lawyers, doctors, businesswomen, performers, artists, and mothers first, without race, gender, or handicap intruding constantly upon our progress? Whether or not you believe that to be true, there can be little doubt these women and countless others like them have made it much more likely for our children and grandchildren. -Connie Briscoe
Excerpted from Jewels by Michael Cunningham Connie Briscoe Copyright © 2007 by Michael Cunningham and Connie Briscoe. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Michael Cunningham was the photographer for Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats. His work has been featured in the New York Times and Ebony, among other publications. Connie Briscoe is a New York Times bestselling author of five novels: Big Girls Don't Cry, Sisters and Lovers, A Long Way from Home, P.G. County, and Can't Get Enough. Her work generally focuses on the strength of black women.
- New York, New York
- Date of Birth:
- November 6, 1952
- Place of Birth:
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- B.A., Stanford University, 1975; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1980
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