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    Musings: Authors do it Write!

    Published 8-8-2021

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    "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."  Matthew 24:6 

    Kehinde Wiley, one of America's foremost African American artists, visited an exhibition of his works in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) and was stricken by the Confederate statues, and what they represent, that line nearby Monument Avenue.  He conceived of a monumental sculpture, Rumours of War, as a response that would enhance the country's story by placing people of color into the narrative and serving as a reminder that our cultural wars have not ended. Since that time the Confederate statues have come down and the"war" has expanded to include political, social and historical issues. The sculpture expresses Richmond's recognition of and commitment to societal change through art. 

    Wiley's 27-ft. tall, 16-ft. long, work, situated in the sculpture garden of the VMFA, is of a contemporary Black male astride a horse. The bronze statue is on a marble and granite base and provides a perfect photo op. #kehindewiley 

    On view inside the museum until September 6, 2021 is the new exhibit, The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture and the Sonic Impulse. This outstanding exhibit incorporates music, photography, film and art to present aspects of southern tradition and cultural patterns as expressed by various artists. The exhibit opens with videos of Billie Holiday singing"Strange Fruit". #vmfa 

    Richmond's Jackson Ward district, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year and positioning itself squarely at the heart of Richmond's history. The district was home to free blacks prior to the Civil War, known as Little Africa, and grew around the black churches. It was named after Stonewall Jackson. After the war the area continued to thrive and by 1900 it was considered both Black Wall Street and the country's Cradle of Black Capitalism. Along with the district's 7 banks and 300 businesses it was also home to Virginia Union University formed in 1896. The university buildings date from 1900. @VAUnion1865 
    Walking the Ward is a history tour guided by longtime resident Gary Flowers enhanced by personal insight and anecdotes into the district at several tour stops. The 90-minute tour departs from the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia. 

    A highlight of the tour is a visit to the Maggie Lena Walker National Historic Site, the home in which she lived from 1909 until 1934. Maggie, the daughter of an ex-slave, founded the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank and became the first female bank president in the US and tireless civil rights advocate. Tours of her Victorian home are offered and exhibit 90% original furniture and personal items. A 10-ft. bronze sculpture of Maggie L. Walker stands in a Memorial Plaza near her home. Ten benches surrounding the statue relate her lifetime achievements. 
    Famous tap dancer Bill"Bojangles" Robinson was born in Richmond. On a return visit he witnessed children attempting to cross the street at a dangerous intersection. He then purchased a traffic signal, the first in Jackson Ward. A statue was erected in his honor near the spot. His life-sized statue has danced down a staircase since 1973.   

    Richmond's Mending Walls Project is the creation of Hamilton Glass and 30 public artists from all ethnicities sparked by the political climate. Their goal is to paint a series of murals that address current issues and spur community conversations and personal connections throughout the city. A location map is available on the website. mendingwallsrva.com 
    President and Artistic Director Janine Bell founded the Elegba Folklore Society more than 30 years ago to infuse Richmond's black history into the city's cultural and historic landscape and fostering pride in the community. Elegba Society offers unique history tours, performances and events. The Elegba Gallery features African artifacts, educational materials, clothing and jewelry for sale. Specialized tours can be arranged. efsinc.org 

    Bare Soul Yoga, a community wellness collective, was established by Ashley Williams as a place for the black community to heal physically, emotionally, culturally and spiritually.  The Collective holds classes, hosts events and lectures on all aspects of self-care. Access to services is available online. baresoulyoga.com 

    The American Civil War Museum at Historic Tredegar Iron Works seeks to tell the story of the Civil War across race, gender and nationality through video, colorized photographs, displays, first-person narratives and greater than 500 artifacts. This museum is well worth a visit because of its holistic approach to history. The museum was constructed within the existing walls of Tredegar Iron Works, the South's largest wartime facility in the 1860s and is architecturally stunning. ACWM.org 

    Richmond's Quirk Hotel is one of the city's newest and trendiest hotels. It is a full service boutique hotel situated inside a historic department store building that artfully blends modern amenities with original elements including incredibly high ceilings and original maple floors. Highlights of a stay here are two on-site art galleries, rooftop bar and lobby restaurant. The hotel has an ideal location and is walking distance to restaurants, shopping and historic Jackson Ward. www.reservations.com/hotel/quirk-hotel 
    Travel + Leisure named Richmond one of the"50 Best Places to Travel in 2021".  #visitrichmondva 
    Dining Southern Style Suggestions: 
    Soul Taco  www.soultacorva.com 

    Lillie Pearl   https://lilliepearlrva.com 

    Perly's   orderperlysrichmond.com 

    Ms Girlee's Kitchen   https://www.msgirleeskitchen.com

    Southern Kitchen   https://southernkitchenrva.net 

    Brenner Pass   https://www.brennerpassrva.com 





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    Renee Gordon has written a weekly travel column for the Philadelphia Sun Newspaper for the past fifteen years and has published articles on local, national and international travel in numerous publications. Her columns focus on cultural, historic and heritage tourism and her areas of specialization are sites and attractions related to African American and African Diaspora history. Renee has been a guest radio commentator on various aspects of tourism and appeared in a documentary, "The Red Summer of 1919". As an educator for thirty years she was an English teacher, event and meeting planner, served as an educational consultant and intern-teacher mentor. She contributed to textbooks on women's history and classroom management and has facilitated workshops on both subjects. Renee considers herself a "missionary journalist" and as such she continues to promote heritage and sustainable tourism.

    2013 Recipient of African Diaspora World Tourism Flame Keeper in Media Award for Travel Writing

    IABTW- International Association of Black Travel Writers
    PBJ - Progressive Black Journalists

    The Tenant from Hell

    Book 1 in the Realtor Mystery Series
    Casey Clark, property manager, is just trying to evict a bad tenant. Instead she is over her head in murder and mayhem
    Double Duplicity

    Book 2 in the Realtor Mystery Series
    Trouble  follows Casey like a raging fire.
    Missing-- Gone but not Forgotten

    Based on the unsolved  abduction of a little girl in a rural Florida community
    Under a Bloody Flag

    Kansas and Missouri were a "no man's land" in the days before the War between the States. 

     Under a Black Flag

    Kansas and Missouri heated to the boiling point during the War between the States.

    For Want of a Ship

    John Roy came to New Orleans looking  for peace instead he found a war.
    Last Step
    Last Step will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you gasping in surprise at the ending

    Kudzu shows you a different part of the South, past and present. Mystery with a touch of romance and a smidgen of paranormal.

    Wild about Florida: South FL

    The Everglades swarm with wildlife from birds,  to mammals, to reptiles. Take a boat ride into the surrounding waters of the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico, you will find dolphins dancing in your wake.
    Wild about Florida: Central FL
    Central Florida has the ocean and gulf beaches much like other parts of Florida but in many other ways it is distinct and unique. The Florida scrub jay, a bird many Floridians believe should be our state bird, is found nowhere else in the world .
    Wild About Florida: North FL
    Come explore caves, hills, whitewater falls and lots of other fun things you didn't expect to find in Florida. North Florida still lets you enjoy the sun and sand of Gulf and ocean beaches,  but there is so much more. The northern counties are different from their southern and central counterparts.
    Georgia's Ghostly Getaways  
    Who is not fascinated by mysterious things that go bump in the night? Who has never wondered about that thin line that separates the living from the dead? Are there some places where departed souls still linger?
    Hosts With Ghosts
    The South has long been famous for its Southern Hospitality. Hotels throughout Dixie vie with one another to offer their guests more service and more amenities. They strive to make each visitor feel like a cherished family member instead of a paying customer. Many have guests that never depart.
    Finding Florida's Phantoms
    Florida! The land of sunshine and wide-open beaches. But even the Sunshine State has its dark secrets. Places where centuries old spirits remain tied to earth. Beneath the facade of fun and make believe lurks the real Florida.
    Color Saint Augustine
    This is a way to virtually visit Saint Augustine. It's a coloring book for grown ups (but kids will love it too.) It's a spiral bound, letter size (8.5" x 11") book with an actual photo taken by me of one of the attractions in Saint Augustine. The opposite page is the same photo converted into a black and white line image for you to to color. It's 64 pages with 30 photos and 30 pages for you to color. On each photo and each color page there is a little about the story of the image . 

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