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On January 29, 2016, I appeared as the guest speaker for the Annual Book Fair sponsored by The Soul Writers Guild at The Evansville African American Museum in Evansville, IN.  The following day, I was invited to facilitate a writers workshop for participants aged 7 - 70.  The following is my response to the community regarding the success of the events and the community's support.

 

Open Thank You Letter to My First Family and Community

Dear Family, Friends, and Community,

 

Thank you so very much for the invitation to be a part of the Annual Book Fair for The Soul Writers Guild at The Evansville African American Museum.

 

 

I was surprised and overwhelmed by the show of love and support!  To be in the company of my elders who raised and supported me through my youth was an absolute honor.  Know that the laying of your hands and your words of wisdom move with me on a daily basis and are infused in my practices as a parent and teacher. 

 

 

Mr. and Mrs. William Saucer, Miss Armetta, Mother Kay and Karen, Miss Leona, it was a joy to see your faces light up with joy, laughter, and pride.  I cannot thank you enough.  Elder Griot Sondra Matthews, thank you for being an example of unerring activism and ancestral pride.  Mrs. Outlaw, thank you for showing me that sacred space at East Branch Library where the poetry was hiding and thank you for reminding me to “keep going.”

 

             

 

It was also special to see my peers show up- April, Lisa, Emily, Lori, Bridgette, Tiffany… Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules and lives to be supportive.  You have always been supportive of me, and it was a blessing to know that remains. Many of you I have not seen for years.  It was a treat to have you there!  Corderro, the portrait was amazing and an honor to behold!

 

 

To my baby sister, Tonya, thank you for the introduction, travel support, and for being my “partner-in-crime” listening to my poems and stories and crazy ideas when no one else would.  I don’t know who I would be without your presence and listening ear in my life.

 

 

To Aretha, thank you for your patience, commitment, and your flexibility and support.  I am honored that out of all the writers you have read, you chose to honor my work.

 

To The Soul Writers Guild, and The Museum, thank you for your efforts to nurture literacy and culture in our community.  I am humbled by your invitation in endless ways.    To stand in the museum on the grounds of the projects where my grandmother, father, aunt and uncles once lived and loved and struggled was a humbling and unforgettable experience.  There were moments when I held back the tears that night.

 

In light of the many tragic events that continue to plague our community, we must remember that our own love and support of one another on a daily basis in the least and the greatest of ways is still our most valuable defense and priceless tool.  We must “matter” most to ourselves and each other and radiate that magic with relentless passion and commitment.  I thank you wholeheartedly for reminding me of that and for giving me a reason to “keep going.”

 

I have lived, traveled and presented in many places including other places in the world, but there is something precious about being not just invited but welcomed back “home.”  I thank you with all my heart and hope to see you again soon.

 

Much love, blessings, and protection for us all,

 

Tamara

 

P.S.  Please forgive me if I have not listed your name here. Know that it is simply human error and not a lack in the heart.

 

 

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