33rd “In The Tradition…”Annual National Festival and Conference of Black Storytelling-Victory and Vision

Dylan PritchettJambo! Peace and Blessings, National Association of Black Storytellers family and friends!  Green leaves are turning beautiful fall colors. A little chill greets us in the morning and evening.  Some of us are beginning to pack for that annual Homecoming, Home Gathering of jeliw, storytellers, storylisteners and storylovers from Ohio, Pennsylvania, the New England States, New York, Louisiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, Minnesota, New Jersey, the Mid-West, West Virginia, California, Georgia, Baltimore (the center of the known universe) and beyond. Because, it is time for that annual warm hugging, bright smiling, awesome drumming, tall tale telling, audacious storytelling event, the 33rd “In the Tradition… “Annual National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference.

The organizers have been working extremely hard to ensure that you will witness and testify to another spectacular festival. Dylan Pritchett, Festival Director, has organized trips to and lectures at the National Archives and the Library of Congress and confirmed our special Featured Scholar, Dr. Rex Ellis, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs at the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Don’t miss this presentation.

Mama Elisha Minter, our Youth Director promises fun, excitement, storytelling and special surprises for the youth when they gather to share their vision and victories.  She says, “Join us as Mama Linda Goss returns to Howard University (her alma mater) to share words of wisdom with our youth on Friday, November 13th”.

Co-Directors of the Adopt-A-Teller Program (AATP) Stanley “Bunjo” Butler and Linda Gorham were challenged this year to create and implement a successful program. They met that challenge, and with the help of the sponsors, The National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), Nora Roberts Foundation, Lois Lenski Covey Foundation and the McGraw Hill Company, will provide 39 individual performances in 33 venues and the gift of books. Tellers will perform at The Kennedy Center, the District of Columbia’s public libraries, schools, a youth service center and an assisted living facility for adults.

Host Committee Chair, Carol Alexander is excited to bring us a taste of DC Black Broadway: Stories In Music, Dance and Voice. The event will be held Thursday, November 12th at 6:30 p.m., at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I St SW, Washington, DC.  Get ready for KanKouran West African Dance Ensemble Company the Ishingi Family Dance and Drummers, gospel, storytelling and a Thursday night fish fry!

I would also like to acknowledge the transition of our beloved NABS Talking Blog Editor, Sister Linda Cousins Newton. Sister Linda was a gifted writer and editor and her dedication, friendship and commitment I will sorely miss. A true warrior scholar has fallen.  But I am pleased to announce that Donna Washington has stepped forward and will be our guest blog editor for the next several months. Donna is a storyteller, author and blogger and her personal blog post can be found at Language, Literacy and Storytelling: A Discussion About the Links Between Storytelling Language and Literacy.

See you at NABS!


Sister Dr. Caroliese Frink Reed, Chairperson
Education Committee
National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc.

OPEN THE DOOR RICHARD – Master Keys of Leadership

Written by Queen Nur

Oh, how we treasure the memory of our Beloved Founder Mary Carter Smith’s storytelling performance of Open the Door Richard.  And, Oh, how pleased we are to honor her legacy by sharing the keys of great leadership….….and bust the door of Greatness wide-open.

What does Mary Carter Smith, Linda Goss, David Walker, Carter G. Woodson, Booker T. Washington, Chancellor Williams, Geoffrey Canada, Gil Noble, Thurgood Marshall, Shirley Chisholm, and Fannie Lou Hamer, all have in common?  They are all great Leaders.


Enthusiastic about Mission



Efficient in Best Practices


Jimmy and Tonja Caldwell of Caldwell’s Leadership Solutions presented the first NABS Webinar for Members Only on March 26.  Jammed packed with information and resources, we received four keys to organizational success in a 90-minute electrifying presentation.  We know that there are many kinds of keys…luggage keys, door keys, treasure chest keys…but the keys we received on the Webinar were all Master Keys.  How do you secure entry to success?  What key ignites the right team?  How do you unlock community engagement?  How do you open the door to good financial practices?

The Caldwells explain that the answers lie in a formula “W=TSD.  Words equal what we Think, Say and Do.”   So once again, we come to understand the un-deniability of Nommo – The Power of the Word.  It is always the mission of the organization that propels the TSD.  So the first master key is to be Mission-Driven.  Board members must embody the mission in heart, speech and action.

The next key has to turn an ignition – Getting the right people on the Bus and the wrong people off of the Bus in order to drive the mission forward.  The key is to get team members who are willing to serve not just to sit. Often folks say, “Oh, this is a volunteer thing, so we can only expect what folks are willing to give.”  DON’T set your expectations low.  The expectations for your organization should not be any less that what would be expected to run any other successful business.  We no longer have to pay the fare on the front of the bus, as did Rosa Parks, and then get off and walk to the back of the Bus to get on.   The entrance is in the front – meaning – board members should be dedicated to forwarding the mission of the organization at all times – Doing the working.

It is the actions of the team that influence the community and transform lives.   With this key, we are given entry into making a difference through Community Engagement, while at the same time, building an army of support for the organization’s mission.  The Caldwell’s reiterated, “You DO NOT want your organization to be the best kept secret.”  If you are not influencing the community, how can you mission be forwarded?

To open the door fully we need the fourth key – the key to BEST Financial Practices. 

Balance (Diversify Sources – Over 70% of donations come from individuals – Don’t just depend on Grants)

Evaluate budget monthly (Compare budget with actuals to assess current status)

Sustainability (Does your financials tell a story of sustainability?)

Timeliness (Honor Deadlines, File and Report on Time)

With the four keys now on our master key ring we are able to open the door to success.   But how do you make sure that none of the keys get jammed in the keyhole.  AAAH…. Four more FREE Webinars to go in this Leadership series.  The next is on April 10.  Members be sure to sign up at www.nabsinc.org.

* Open the Door Richard is a monologue made famous by Dusty Fletcher in 1947 and performed by such greats as Pigmeat Markham and Mary Carter Smith.