Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Oprah’s Legends Ball: Mourning the Death of One Black Woman and Appreciating Thousands More

It was May 22, 2006 when I finally mourned the death of my grandmother. After 14 years I began to understand the magnitude of her death. Frankie Payne’s death did not hit me on April 10, 1992 like it did while watching Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball. It was on this night between 8pm and 9pm that I realized the power of Frankie.

She was quick-witted, sarcastic, and brutally honest. She was the epitome of Dorothy Height’s courageousness, she was dedicated to life like Cecily Tyson, Frankie Payne was the essence of Ruby Dee’s beauty. How I loved my grandmother!

She was my momma, my auntie, and my grandma all in one. She was everything to me. Frankie Payne told me how to behave in public and she demanded that I respect and honor the black woman. Not only was she the behavior checker she was the evaluator of my girlfriends. She set the standard. How I miss Frankie!

Eventually, while watching the MOVING special presentation, my thoughts began to drift from grandma. I started to think of my relationships with the black woman. I began to think about the pain I have caused. I began to re-evaluate what I want and desire from the black woman. I immediately thought of the marvelous bonds I have created with women whose make-up includes tenacity, love, beauty, intelligence, creativity, elegance, passion, support, and humility. All of the women invited to Oprah’s home to celebrate black femininity have these wonderful personality traits. Traits every black man wants. How every black man needs a Leontyne Price!

No black woman on the face of this earth should say, ‘There are no role models for me.’ From Ashanti to Gladys Knight there is a model for the black woman to emulate. The icons are in the black woman’s reach, and the black girl on the Southside of Chicago has someone they can say is my heroine. On career day at Salem Elementary School every little black girl can proudly say with confidence, ‘I want to be just like McMillan, Keys, Reese…’

And, for the black man we should all be able to say, ‘The black woman has been there and she continues to support me.’ A display of support like Coretta Scott King gave to a man who changed America. How I want a Rosa Lee Medley, Mary Payne-Scott, and Demetress Johnson!

We, black men, have witnessed via the Legends Ball broadcast that black women can get together without “chatting” about each other, without backstabbing, without gossiping, without looking angry, and without disrespecting each other. Now, it is time for us (black men) to step-up. We have to do our part by combating and defeating the barriers we have created and remove the curtain of division that has pushed black men and women a part. Ultimately, it is time for the black woman and man to rededicate ourselves to the development of the black family.

Black man, will you join me? Black woman, will you help and continue to support us?

Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by the memories of Frankie Payne. Inspired by one of God’s gifts to the world: Oprah Winfrey.

For more information on the Legend’s Ball please visit this website: http://abc.go.com/primetime/legendsball/

7 comments:

FREEDOM said...

I am moved by this piece. As I read this my heart started beating fast and emotional you took me there. Every Black Woman wants to know that she is APPRECIATED and LOVED. Most importantly, she wants to be LOVED and RESPECTED by the Black Man.
I promise I will do my part to support and uplift the Black Man and the Black Family structure.

I am so happy that you gave tribute to your Grandmother. From your description of her, you were Blessed to have had her Spirit in your life then and now!

To the Black Woman. We need to embrace one another with LOVE and RESPECT. God has given us beautiful, intelligent, out spoken, and courageous Black Women as role models. Now, it is time for us to leave a legacy for our children, grandchildren and every little black girl and black boy that has a dream. A dream of a better tomorrow! A dream with Black Men and Black Women united as one.

Then we will be able to join hand and hand singing together the old Negro spiritual,

"Free At Last! Free At Last! Thank God Almighty, we are Free At!"

FREEDOM said...

After my divorce, I was seriously thinking about giving up on the Black Man. I thought that maybe a white guy would not be so bad. Not saying that white men don't cheat or have there problems. I thought that maybe I should try Something New. I was tired of the Black Man with all of his deception.

Before you attack me, I know all Black Men are not like that and some really try to do the right thing. I just have not ran into many. The ones I chose, I know nobody made me choose these men, but the ones I chose were all wrong for me. I wanted to save them and show them this great life they could have. However, I realized I cannot save anyone and if they did not want to be saved then my efforts would end in failure as they did.

So, thank you for letting me know that there are still very good, strong, intelligent, sensitive, loving, caring, phenomenal black men still out there. I will not give up on the Black Man. I know God will send me to the right Black Man at the right time when we both are ready to completely commit to one another.

My hat goes off to you. Take your bow!!! You deserve it!!!

Real Deal said...

When a person of any racial background appreciates those that have gone before him or her, it is definitely a good thing.

It is the struggle of those before us that we must adore, admire, and ,yes, be obligated to.

I am a single Black mom that prays with my sons each morning before we go out to start our day. Lastly, before we open the door, I say, "Who do you represent?!" The answer I taught them since they were two and three years old is...." I represent God, myself, and my family!"

If we stop to realize who we represent each day, the possibilities would be innumerable.

I appreciate Oprah for putting the positive vibes of the accomplishments of our people especially, Black women out there. However, when my mother and my mentor called to remind me to watch the program, my response was. "I will try, but I just want to celebrate my every day struggles and triumphs!" I saw most of the program and enjoyed it.

As far as my relationships with my wonderful irreplaceable Black men, I have grown from each experience. I believe that I can say, except for one relationship, I adored them and they adored me. As far as pain, well, it comes with the territory of growth. We cause and experience pain as we grow.

That's why we must forgive.
And so it is....and so it will always be.

Muata said...

Lord! I am in tears.

I am so thankful the piece I wrote has MOVED so many of you. My objective was to honor the black woman. Not to receive accolades. Thank you.

I want my writing to TOUCH the reader. This is my way of giving back to all of us who share my plight!

What WE received today as a result of my thoughts of my grandmother and other phenomenal black women was a BLESSING. I am elated! Joyful! It is like I am feeling the feeling you get before you SHOUT – GET HAPPY at church. I woke-up today happy. I began my work day excited. I will continue and end my day praising God!

Muata

Muata said...

Reader Responses:

I am impressed, Brian. A powerful tribute. I feel this way about the black man because of the awesome example my father, four brothers and husband have been in my life. It is good to hear this expressed about the black woman – my mother & grandmother are my phenomenal “sheroes” along with many others... it needs to be said often… the black family is a force to be reckoned with – that’s why I believe we have been in the struggle and fight we have been in since our units were destroyed by slavery... The black family will be united again... It is our promise from God and our destiny.

You should submit your expression below to the O Magazine and to Essence and anyone else that would publish a “ Black Man’s Response to the Legend’s Ball”. It needs to be read…

Thanks for sharing.
JA

You are an awesome writer!!!! When is the book coming out?
JM

Thanks for sharing this. I, too, believe that Oprah Winfrey is one of God's greatest gifts to the earth. I think she is the manifestation of God on earth. Daily she demonstrates that money is neither good nor evil. Rather, it takes on the nature of its possessor. In her hands, money—mounds of it, even—is incredibly and undeniably positive.
I LOVE HER!
KM

I saw Oprah event....it was Awesome, Outstanding.... I don't think anything has ever touched me that way in my life time..... I'm so proud of her, I just wished I had taped the show.
RM

Muata said...

Reader responses:

That was very well stated and I appreciate it. I watched Oprah’s Legend Ball as well and didn’t expect to be moved in the way that it moved me. We,(black people), whether we want to admit it or not, are in dire straits. We live in the richest country in the world and yet we are the one culture that can’t seem to come together, get it together, and rise as a people. There,(in my opinion), are a lot of reasons for that, not just one but I won’t get into that now for it can be a never ending discussion. The one thing that I took from her show of love for women who’ve inspired her is that through all of the adversity, racial discrimination, hate, injustices, and down right evil doings, the black woman has remained firm and strong. To be honest with you, the black woman can be stronger (emotionally) that men are. For all the men that are about to trip while reading this, you might not admit it to the masses but you know for yourself that you can’t picture or deal with your woman having an extra curricular affair in your relationship, yet women deal with that all of the time and do what is needed to keep that relationship solid instead on allowing an indiscretion to ruin it. The black woman has carried the beacon of hope for our race for decades while it seems the black man (not all of us but many) has lost his way. It’s time for all of us to step our game up. It is easy to blame other people, other races, and other situations for the state we are in. Anybody can do that. The true test is: In the face of whatever adversity you have, what will YOU do to change your situation? What will YOU do to make the world a better place? What will YOU do to inspire the next generation?

Derrick Medley

I got goose bumps reading this piece from Brian. Yeah, that's some good stuff, Brian! I watched the show myself. I was surprised at how much it touched me. You mentioned all what I was feeling.
DW

Bless Him!
PH

Nice piece.
TM

You wrote those words like a true poet. I could tell that it was heartfelt. I am happy to see that you as a black man are not afraid to express your emotions. We are all born with them. It is so freeing to put down the shields. I commend you for your courage to say what was truly on your mind. May God continue to strengthen you to grow into the man of God that he has purposed in your life.
Peace and blessings!
FS

Wonderful! And very moving! Very well-written!
NS

Muata said...

Reader Responses:

Thank you for sharing such an inspirational revelation. I know your grandmother would be sooooo proud of you. And yes, I will continue to stick it out and support my brothers, fathers and true kings because although most of you don't believe it in your core; you do deserve it! I will continue to encourage all single, married and otherwise undecided girlfriends to continue to support you and lift you up!
Mia

I'm really touched.
SM

Your piece was very moving as was the Legend's Ball. I became very overwhelmed while viewing the dedication as well. I'm blessed to have witness such act of humanity!
JB

Thank you for the recognition and for your introspection.
LS

Did it take you to see that show to think about the Black women in your life...I really like that piece you wrote.
AB

God is good. He continues to bless us all. Your words were such a gift for me today. Thank you, and keep pushing!
TL