Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Summer Style!

 There is nothing like African and Indian designed clothing to bring out the colors of summer. I especially love to see the beautiful colors in children's clothing that just shout welcome summer!

Masala Baby -   is inspired by Indian roots: delicious curries, authentic spices, Bollywood movies, celebratory marigold flowers, traditional Indian roses, pink stone architectural details, and the colors of the chaotic bazaars all blending together to create a unique palette. The use of color in India in brightly painted streets, palace mosaics, the vivid hues of the women's sarees, the variety of spices used in Indian cooking and the exuberance of the Indian festivals, the love of color celebrated in every facet of Indian daily life. India's textile tradition is a kaleidoscope of colors and cultures. This inspiration has given birth to Masala Baby's numerous unique collections.

Grace + Ellie - brings African art and culture to modern children's fashion. The brand combines African culture and classic designs to create collections that are unique, colorful, fun, and beautifully distinctive.

Global Mamas- is A Fair Trade Organization benefiting the women of Ghana. Women create clothing and crafts for an international market. “Fair trade” means that an equitable partnership exists between producers of goods in developing countries and retailers in developed countries.

Lemlem - Supermodel / actress Liya Kebede started Lemlem, which means to flourish or bloom in Amharic, as a way to preserve the ancient art of Ethiopian weaving.

 Chakra Design Studio - Based in Dallas, TX, CHAKRA for children offers modern eco-friendly clothing, accessories, and gifts for kids and babies inspired by ancient Indian printing techniques and hand sewn from vegetable-dyed, hand block printed 100% cotton fabrics. With the launch of Chakra Design Studio, its founders find balance in blending the traditional with the modern.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Michelle Obama Inspires With her Commencement Address at Dillard University

Michelle Obama's Commencement Address at Dillard University on May 10, 2014 was so inspiring I want to share excerpts with you. Sometimes we forget to impart the stories of determination and sacrifices made by past generations to our children. Here she shares the stories that young people need to hear, and gives encouragement to the next generation.

"And I know that some of you may come from tough neighborhoods; some of you may have lost your homes during Katrina. Maybe you're like DeShawn Dabney, a graduate who was raised by his grandmother -- maybe -- that's your grandmother, isn't it, DeShawn? (Laughter.) Raised by his grandmother while some of his family members were dealing with issues. Maybe just like him, you've been working part-time jobs since you were a teenager to make your dream of going to college come true. And now, today, you're all here ready to walk across this stage and get that diploma.

And no matter what path you took to get here, you all kept your hearts set on this day. You fought through every challenge you encountered, and you earned that degree from this fine university. And in doing so, you are following in the footsteps of all those who came before you, and you have become an indelible part of the history of this school -- a history that, as you all know, stretches back to well before the Civil War, back to 1826, the year a child named Emperor Williams was born.

Now, Emperor was born into slavery. But as he grew up, he managed to teach himself to read and write well enough to create a pass that allowed him to come and go around the city without getting hassled. But one day, his master saw the pass and he said, where did you learn to write like that? Now, just imagine the fear Emperor must have felt when he heard that question -- because remember, back then it was illegal for a slave to learn to read or write. So who knows what kind of punishment he may have gotten -- a beating, a whipping, even worse.

We don't exactly know what happened on that day, but we do know that when Emperor turned 32, after more than three decades in bondage, he became a free man. He decided to stay in New Orleans, and he went on to become a minister -- even founded a church right here in town. And in 1869, when abolitionists, missionaries, black folks and white folks came together to create a school for freed slaves here in New Orleans, Emperor was one of the original signers of the charter. They decided to name the school New Orleans University, because even though most of the classes would be taught at a high school level or below, oh, their aspirations were much higher than that. And when they laid the cornerstone for that university's first building down on St. Charles Avenue, Emperor got a chance to speak.

He said -- and these are his words -- he said, “For twenty years I was a slave on these streets. It was a penitentiary offense to educate a Negro. I have seen my fellow-servants whipped for trying to learn; but today here I am [am I], speaking where a building is to be erected for the education of the children of my people.” He goes on to say, “I wonder if this is the world I was born in.”

See, in the course of his short lifetime, Emperor saw education go from being a crime for black folks to being a real possibility for his kids and grandkids. So no wonder he was asking whether this was the same world he'd been born into. See, for a man like Emperor, getting an education could open up a whole new world of opportunity. An education meant having real power. It meant you could manage your own money. It meant you couldn't get swindled out of land or possessions when somebody told you to just sign on the dotted line; sometimes even determined whether or not you could vote.

So most folks back then saw education as the key to real and lasting freedom. That's why, when New Orleans University and the other African American college in town, Straight University, first opened their doors, one of the biggest problems they faced was too many students. That's right -- too many students. Many of these students barely spoke English; they'd grown up speaking Creole or French. Few had ever seen the inside of a classroom or even been taught their ABCs.

But let me tell you, those students were hungry -- you hear me? Hungry. They studied like their lives depended on it. They blazed through their lessons. And that hunger for education lasted for generations in the African American community here in New Orleans.

When an arsonist set fire to the school's library in 1877, they built a new one. When those two original schools ran into financial troubles years later, they started making plans to build an even bigger and better university. And in the 1930s, when white folks complained that this new school would mean too many black students on their buses, the folks at the school got the city to add a bus line just for their students, because nothing -- nothing -- was going to stop them from achieving the vision of those early founders.

Because we know that today, education is still the key to real and lasting freedom -- it is still true today. So it is now up to us to cultivate that hunger for education in our own lives and in those around us. And we know that hunger is still out there -- we know it.
Those are the kind of big dreams that folks who founded this university reached for. That is how high they set their bar.

And so we owe it to those folks -- the folks who had the audacity to call their little schools “universities” and name their baby boys “Emperor” -- we owe it to them to reach as high as they did, and to bring others along the way. As the history of this school has taught us, no dream is too big, no vision is too bold; as long as we stay hungry for education and let that hunger be our North Star, there is nothing, graduates, nothing that we cannot achieve."

To read the whole address visit the White House website.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Three Year Old Heaven Dances to Happy

Little Heaven has been blessed with lots of talent and energy, and it's wonderful to see it being nurtured by her mother. Seeing them dance together is pure joy! She could be a poster child for Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" program.

See her dance to Beyonce.