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What Shall I Tell Our Daughters?

By Marian E. Perkins-Phillips JD

Presented by Omni-University

What shall I tell our daughters of the darker hue?


What shall I tell our daughters


of Mother Africa and the diaspora

who live in the United States,

Canada, Brazil, and beyond?


What shall I tell our daughters


of their mothers, grandmothers,

great-grandmothers

and great-great grandmothers

who have been treated as chattel,

overlooked, underappreciated,

mocked, and unjustly maligned,

both in and by, American society

and throughout the world?


What shall I tell our daughters

who are seeking to understand

the present and to prepare for a future

in a world that did not originally,

and does not now,

regard them as free

and free-thinking human beings.


I shall tell our daughters


to read great novels

by our outstanding women authors

such as: Toni Morrison, Audre Lourde,

Octavia Butler, Alice Walker,

Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston

and innumerable others.

The stories of the trials and triumphs of:

Marion Stamps, Dr. Barbara Sizemore,

Queen Mother Helen Sinclair,

Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells,

Fannie Lou Hamer,

Mary McCleod Bethune,

Angela Davis, Asata Shakur,

Betty Shabazz, Coretta Scott King,

and others should be staples

in the library and folklore

of every Black home.

Legends like these

will bolster their courage

and passion for justice.


I shall tell our daughters

to seek out the music of Black Artists

such as: Miriam Makeba, Billie Holiday,

The Clark Sisters, The Staple Singers,

Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin,

Nina Simone, and others

too numerous to mention.

This music will serve as

a"bridge over troubled waters"

and bring them peace and joy.


I shall tell our daughters


to view the transformative artwork of

Dr. Margaret Burroughs,

Elizabeth Catlett, Augusta Savage,

Marva Jolly, Samella Lewis,

and others like them.

I shall tell them that to see themselves

portrayed by artists like these

who love the community

and our people,

will embolden their spirits

and will help them

to see themselves

and the world

in a new and better light.


I shall tell our daughters


to study the scientists

from our community like

the ”Hidden Figures” mathematicians

and “human” computers,

Dorothy Vaughn, Christine Darden,

Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson.

They worked for NASA,

and provided expertise

to the first Americans

who flew to the moon,

and took our imaginations

to higher heights.


I shall tell our daughters

to commune with the women

in their own families and communities

and ask to hear and record, if possible,

the testimonies of our mothers,

"aunties", grandmothers,

“play” mothers, church mothers,

sisters, and neighbors .


I shall tell our daughters


of the lasting benefits

to be derived from

learning their life stories:

of working, protesting,

mating, child-rearing,

and learning- to braid hair,

cook greens,

make gumbo (with okra),

sew quilts, garden,

save( for rainy days), etc.

as they honored our God.

For this, as well as all of the above,

is part and parcel of how

“we made a way out of no way”

and “how we got over”

in this land.


I shall tell our daughters


that we have come too far

to stop fighting for our freedom

and for a just and fair society.


I will tell our daughters


that there is a place for them

in our communities, nation,

and the world:

that the time is now

for them to carry forward

the torch that has been lit

and passed on to them

by our elders and our ancestors.


Below, please enjoy, "MotherWit: What Shall We Tell Our Daughters" an episode of "Omni-U Presents: The H3O/Art of Life" television show, with Omni-University Faculty members, Marian Perkins-Phillips JD, and Dr. Asantewaa Oppong Wadie.


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