Hi, I'm Maya, and I'd love to tell you about the I, Too, Arts Collective. This is a new non-profit initiative being launched by author Renée Watson to preserve and build on the legacy of poet, Langston Hughes. I was so excited when I heard that Renée was doing this, because, like so many people, I have enjoyed the poetry of Langston Hughes since I was a little, little kid. In fact, I still have my very first book of poetry, which is called My Black Me: A Beginning Book of Black Poetry, which . . .
A recent visit to Chicago for BookExpo America transported me back to 2005, when I visited the offices of historic black newspaper The Chicago Defender. At the time, I was a grad student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, visiting to interview then-editor Roland Martin about his plans for reviving the paper at its 100th anniversary. Martin peered over a sleek silver laptop, surrounded by books and papers, and opined in an authoritative staccato about newspaper . . .
I appreciated the opportunity to speak at Breakthrough Austin’s Beat the Odds Benefit. I shared my newcomer’s perspective on the organization and made a case for helping it close the gap between the Austin Dream and the Austin reality of extreme segregation. It’s a tough job, but I’m optimistic that the city has the resources to do it. Here’s the speech: My family and I moved here in May--with 3,000 other folks. We’re part of the influx of people primed to relocate by all of the Best . . .
Every now and then a crazy idea captures my imagination and won’t let go. In 2013, it was to sell 1,000 short-sleeved t-shirts in the dead of winter to raise money for a local nonprofit with deep roots but little name-recognition. In 2014, it was to transform a Richmond trolley into a Brooklyn cityscape inspired by Ezra Jack Keats’s classic children’s book “The Snowy Day.” I thought the story’s urban landscape and celebration of childhood made it perfect for the Richmond Christmas Parade. The . . .
Months ago, I interviewed Katie Meyler, founder of a nonprofit devoted to getting girls off the street and into school in Liberia. I was so impressed by her story, and the magnitude of her efforts to serve destitute girls, that I held onto my notes, intending to write a long feature about her. The former education reporter in me wanted to collect more data, visit the school, interview students, and see for myself the impact this one passionate woman makes. In short, I wanted to write . . .
I am honored to serve as the 2014 Christmas Mother and to rally our community around this year's effort to fund holiday meals, gifts, transportation, school supplies, and special events for 80 local organizations. To donate online via credit card, click here. To donate by mail, send a check made payable to Richmond Christmas Mother to: Christmas Mother 300 East Franklin Street Richmond, VA 23219 . . .
Shaka and I were named to Style Weekly’s 2014 40 Under 40 List for our advocacy and service in the Richmond area. I’m honored to be listed among such dynamic leaders, who are working to advance a variety of important causes. The diversity of the honorees inspires me. It reminds me that we each have a contribution to make to the world that no one else can make--and that we fulfill our unique potential when we actively work to align our daily actions with our values and vision. Read the article . . .
Part-memoir, part-playbook, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s “Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World” is a refreshingly practical addition to the women’s empowerment shelf, especially for women who aspire to public service. True to mission, the book even ends with a note that the women’s congressional softball team could use another starting pitcher. She’s talking to you, dear reader. Get in the game! The book chronicles the life of an extraordinarily accomplished woman leader, but . . .
Angela Patton captured the hearts and imaginations of hundreds of thousands of online viewers with a TED talk describing an unusual (and uplifting) father-daughter dance—between incarcerated dads and their young daughters. The dance was the fruit of a girl-led social-change project convened by a grassroots organization Patton began in Richmond, Va. In every setting, Patton brings a palpable enthusiasm, a drive to connect and uplift that I wish I could bottle up and spread around. She’s . . .
I gave the Senior Convocation Address for Richmond Public Schools this year and I count the experience among the great privileges of my life. I accepted the challenge of addressing 2,000 (2,000!) people—graduating seniors from eight city high schools and their friends, family and teachers—because of a William James quote that sits on my desk: “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” Dressed in regalia from robe to mortarboard and flanked by school and city officials, I took in the . . .