By Linda Cousins- Newton
“Time sho’ does fly!” Can you believe it– In a little less than a month, hundreds of us from across the country and the world will once more be NABS-bound to be blessed with both the sharing and receiving of stories from some of the world’s greatest word-weaving artists. I have been contemplating for months how I will best open my mind, heart, and soul to reveal the stories lodged there during my workshop on the African-Amerindian Connections and Coalitions and in portraying the humbly great ancestor, ‘Aunt Chona, the Black Seminole Horse Trainer and Love Warrior.”
As my Georgia-born, Tennessee-dwelling Grandmama Anna Pearl, would have said, “Well, chile. I don’t know why in the world you sittin’ ’round doing so much thankin’ ’bout it. Jes go out there, git outa the way, and let the good Lord use you to do your thang.” My first informal (and unsuspecting) mentor in the art of storytelling (while stirring up a delectable “pot” over the kitchen coal stove or while sitting around the fireplace on cold Tennessee nights–uh-oh, dating myself, aren’t I?!); well, Mama, as we all called her, just let the stories flow from her heart; no rehearsals, no mics, no costumes–just soul-based, spirit-shared stories that remained with the hearer for a lifetime.
And so taking my cue from that wise family griot–(who, puzzled, would’ve wrinkled her brow upon hearing that strange word “griot”)–I, too, will get out of the way and let the ancestors and the creative Spirit mold, shape, and share these profound stories in the best way possible through the consciousness of my being. Then I will combine my years of training as a teacher to hopefully take it “another further” by engaging the varied learning styles and five senses of those sister-brother story partakers; by incorporating music, art, a dab of poetry, and eye-pleasing visuals in spreading the Word of both the well-known and little-known cultural linkages and collective freedom quests of the African descendants and Amerindian freedomists who joined hearts, minds, love, and powerful military skills “way back when” (as Grandmama Anna Pearl would say) in our history and our herStory.
While it is a challenge, albeit a positive one, to unfold the consciousness in storytelling to a room full of master storytellers and long-time ancestralists; with the warm, loving, encouraging NABS audience, it is also a supreme delight as these story carriers and story sharers relish knowledge gathering and soul liftings. I not only daily read, ponder and research these stories, I live the story and walk the history in my daily life, so much so that the Divine Parent arranged for my marriage into a Black Seminole family and took me to the ancestral homeland with Mother Tubman’s family and her own ever-active spirit.
Yes, I believe I’ve got “some mighty good story stuff” to serve on the plates of these living ancestors, Mama. I hope to make the ancestors (including you) and the Supreme Artist of the universe proud in doing this work. And as with your stories told to the family and the l’il shy Tennessee poet “way back when”, I pray that these ancestral stories flowing from my soul will remain with the hearers for a lifetime–and far beyond. (Then I can breathe a sigh of relief, “rare back”, and enjoy the other stories flowing from the souls of these master story weavers and living ancestors from around the world.)
Linda Cousins-Newton is the Director, Ancestral Promotions in New York.