For centuries, African American women have been remaking the world, giving testament to the power of hope, courage, and resilience. But it took the inspired generosity of Oprah Winfrey to honor fully the many gifts of sisterhood. For three amazing days–from May 13 to 15, 2005–a distinguished group of women was invited to celebrate the enduring achievements of twenty-five of their mentors and role models–and in the process pay tribute to the long, glorious tradition of African American accomplishment.
The brilliant centerpiece of the weekend was the reading aloud of Pearl Cleage’s poem “We Speak Your Names,” written especially for the occasion and appearing here for the first time in this beautiful keepsake book. As deeply moving in print as it was during that weekend of love and praise, the poem names each of the women honored: Dr. Maya Angelou, Coretta Scott King, Diahann Carroll, Toni Morrison, Nikki Giovanni, Rosa Parks, Katherine Dunham, and other legends of the brightest magnitude. With heartfelt eloquence, Pearl Cleage (herself a luminary of the younger generation) celebrates her distinguished elders’ strength, their magic, their sensuality, their loving kindness, their faith in themselves, and the priceless example of their lives. In her introduction, the poet shares: “My sisters, here, there, and everywhere, this poem is for you. Use it, adapt it, pass it on. . . .”
Destined to become a classic, We Speak Your Names is a treasure to keep forever and a precious, inspiring gift for the ones you love.