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#BrooklynGirlCode™ #TBT’s: Nina Simone’s “To Be Young Gifted and Black!”

“In the whole world you know, there’s a million boys and girls who are young, gifted and Black. And that’s a fact!” -Nina Simone

It was the summer of 1969. Singer/songwriter Nina Simone was at the height of her career. Simone was performing at the Harlem Cultural Festival in New York City and decided to introduce her new song, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” to the world. The song which was inspired by Simone’s late friend and famous playwright, Lorraine Hansberry turned out to be the ultimate ode to Black Excellence! The song would later be featured on Nina Simone’s live studio album Black Gold and would also become an unofficial anthem for the American Civil Rights Movement.

In honor of Black History Month, #BrooklynGirlCode is taking a trip back in time to the summer of 1969! Young gifted and black…oh what a lovely precious dream! Check out an exclusive throwback interview of Nina Simone speaking about the song below and enjoy! -xoxo <3

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#TBT’s: #Two Intelligent #BlackMen Are Better Than One! #HappyBirthday #BobbySeale! 🖤

Black Panther Party founders Bobby Seal and Dr. Huey P. Newton in front of the official Black Panther Party headquarters
Black Panther Party founders Bobby Seal and Dr. Huey P. Newton in front of the official Black Panther Party headquarters
Black Panther Party founders Bobby Seal and Dr. Huey P. Newton in front of the official Black Panther Party headquarters. Photo courtesy of Jason Porter Pinterest page.

Today marks the 84th birthday of Black Panther Party founder, political activist Bobby Seale. Bobby Seale was born in Liberty, Texas on October 22nd, 1936. The oldest of three children, Bobby Seale moved to Oakland, California with his family when he was eight years old. Seale would later go on to form the very controversial, but very important Black Panther Party along with Dr. Huey P. Newton in Oakland in 1966. The party which eventually dissolved in 1982 aimed to inform and educate African-Americans on their civil rights and provide free food to residents in inner-city communities.

Black Panther Party founder Bobby Seale.
Black Panther Party founder Bobby Seale. Photo courtesy of The Washington Post.

In his later years, Seale wrote a few books, starred in popular television documentaries and became a college professor teaching Black Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA (where my Temple Owls at?!). At 84 years old, Bobby Seale is still on the move educating and empowering. Happy Birthday to a true American Legend! And thank you for coming together with Dr. Huey P. Newton to form the Black Panther Party because two intelligent Black men are better than one! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode.🖤

Photo of Black Panther Party founder Bobby Seale
Photo of Black Panther Party founder Bobby Seale. Photo courtesy of Moor Info.

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#ForeverMJ 🎶🎵💙 #MJTurns59

Photo of a young Michael Jackson listening to music via Rolling Stone magazine's Instagram.

Photo of a young Michael Jackson listening to music via Rolling Stone magazine's Instagram.

Photo of a young Michael Jackson listening to music via Rolling Stone magazine’s official Instagram page.

The King of Pop turns 59 years old today. One of the hardest working entertainers ever, Michael Jackson often shadowed the great musicians and artists around him such as James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and several others. As a constant practictioner of his craft, Michael never stopped until every single angle was perfected. This habit would allow him to break music barriers like no other artist had done before him and later on in his life, Michael Jackson would go on to become one of the greatest musicians who ever lived. Never mind his 1982 (the year I was born:-)) Thriller album being the highest-selling album of all time or the millions and millions and millions of albums sold. Michael Jackson proved that no level of greatness could be achieved without constant work and dedication! Check out some cool videos from across the web commemorating Michael Jackson’s 59th born day below. Happy Birthday MJ! We Miss You!!! #ForeverMJ!!!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BYZMcdtFgb1/?taken-by=wbls1075nyc

Michael Jackson 'Thriller' album cover

Michael Jackson’s 1982 studio album ‘Thriller’ produced entirely by Quincy Jones would go on to become the highest-selling studio album of all time.

Portrait of a young Michael Jackson by artist “Kyés” via his Instagram page.

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#HappyBirthday #JamesBaldwin !

Today is a real American Icon’s birthday! American essayist, playwright and novelist James Baldwin who was born in 1924 in Harlem, New York City would’ve turned ninety-three years old today. For writers everywhere, Baldwin was a saint. However, during his sixty-three years on this earth, he was a friend to many. In honor of the icon’s birthday, #BrooklynGirlCode has collected some of Baldwin’s best photos with his friends via the internet! No need to write a huge paragraph about how great James Baldwin was. All I’ll say is… if you’re over thirty years old and have never read a piece of Baldwin’s literature (i.e. The Devil Finds Work; The Fire Next Time, Remember This House, etc.!!) then you’re just missing out on life my friend! Check out some of Baldwin’s coolest photos with his friends below and Happy Born Day again to a great one!

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James Baldwin and Brother David Baldwin
James Baldwin and his Brother David Baldwin in the 80’s. Photo courtesy of the bostonreview.net.

James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry
James Baldwin getting down with famed Playwright Lorraine Hansberry. Photo courtesy of kentakepage.com.

James Baldwin holding an abandoned young boy in Durham, North Carolina. Photo courtesy of Steve Schapiro.
James Baldwin holding an abandoned young boy in Durham, North Carolina circa 1957. Photo courtesy of Steve Schapiro.

James Baldwin with good friend Medgar Evers reading the news. Photo Courtesy of Steve Schapiro via the New York Times.
James Baldwin with good friend Medgar Evers reading the news. Photo Courtesy of Steve Schapiro via The New York Times.

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James Baldwin sharing a moment with Maya Angelou. Photo courtesy of Maya Angelou’s Wikipedia page.

Nina Simone and James Baldwin bumpinh heads! Photo courtesy of blogs.baruch.cuny.edu.
Nina Simone and James Baldwin bumping heads! Photo courtesy of blogs.baruch.cuny.edu.

Medgar Evers at home with James Baldwin and his two sons.
Medgar Evers at home with James Baldwin and his two sons. Photo courtesy of scoopnest.com.

James Baldwin with his younger Paula in 1953
James Baldwin with his younger sister Paula in 1953. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com.

James Baldwin and Lena Horne embracing during a meeting in New York in 1963.
James Baldwin and Lena Horne embracing during a meeting in New York in 1963. Photo courtesy of abagond.wordpress.com.

James Baldwin talking with friends in Chicago, Illinois 1984. Photo taken by Michelle Agins and courtesy of MFON.
James Baldwin talking with friends in Chicago, Illinois 1984. Photo taken by Michelle Agins and courtesy of MFON.

James Baldwin pictured with friends Odetta, Ralph Ellison, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Photo courtesy of pinterest.com.
James Baldwin pictured with friends, singer Odetta Holmes, American novelist Ralph Ellison and actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Photo courtesy of peakblackness.tumblr.com.

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The #Artistry of #ChuckBerry

Today’s #TBT has to go to a true musical genius. R.est I.n M.usic P.aradise to legendary Rock ‘N’ Roll artist Chuck Berry! The music most certainly lives on!!! Check out Chuck Berry doing his famous “Duck Walk” via YouTube here.

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Photo of the late Chuck Berry doing his famous “Duck Walk” courtesy of @genius Instagram via @rashidaaz Instagram

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How Music Helps Mechanical Engineer Yassmin Abdel-Magied Relax In a Male-Dominated Industry

Yassmin Abdel-Majied

Yassmin Abdel-Majied
Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Yassmin Abdel-Magied is not your average 25-year-old professional. She has already established herself as a successful mechanical engineer, author, youth advocate, political commentator (her exclusive TEDx video titled What does my headscarf mean to you? has garnered 1,948,952 views). Plus, she almost became an official Formula One race car driver due to her love for fast cars but decided to put that career on hold and focus on her Youth Without Borders foundation that she founded when she was only sixteen.

On our initial meeting in a small patisserie in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Yassmin comes off as super humble. The vibrant colors in Yassmin’s Hijab or Kimar (head scarf worn by Muslim women) make the beautiful features in her face stand out even more. In addition to all this, Yassmin’s huge smile brightens up the already sun-drenched patisserie. After finally getting our coffee and finding two available seats, Yassmin and I formally introduce ourselves to one other. After speaking briefly about my Fencing career which Yassmin seems to be interested in, I begin to ask her a whole slew of questions. I’m the most impressed by Yassmin’s modesty. Although she has achieved a lot more in life than most people her age, her journey is one of endurance, patience and strength that started all the way back in her native land of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

Yassmin’s family, originally from Khartoum, migrated to Australia when Yassmin was just a young girl. When Yassmin and her family arrived to Australia in the early 90’s, they were one of only two Sudanese families in the region and had to acclimate to all the strange new ways of the Aussies. However, it was Yassmin’s mother, an architect herself, who always instilled in Yassmin to never forget where she came from. These words of wisdom would carry Yassmin through the more difficult times in her life.

The first question that comes to mind after engaging in conversation with Yassmin who seems so joyful and upbeat is — why mechanical engineering as a career? Yassmin obviously has the talents to be anything she wants but chose working on an oil rig as her full-time job (gotta keep your day job). Working on the oil rigs sometimes leaves Yassmin far out in the middle of the vast ocean for months at a time where she is often the only woman around several men. Once she explains to me that she comes from a family of engineers and architects and that the challenge of working on the oil rigs is what excites her, it starts to make more sense.

So now, the next question that comes to my mind is what does someone do to bring them joy and break the monotony of being away from family and friends for months at a time? “I love listening to music while I’m out on the rigs!” Yassmin replies boisterously. This makes perfect sense because if I know anything, it’s that music brings you joy no matter where you are in the world. When I ask her what particular artists she enjoys listening to, she shocks me when she answers that she adores popular 80’s singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman. The late 80’s was the time that Chapman was prominent in music and Yassmin had not even been born yet. I was definitely born and can recall this time clearly because I remember playing my mother’s Tracy Chapman cassette tape over and over again until the brown tape popped. However, Yassmin Abdel-Magied wasn’t even a thought when Tracy Chapman was on top of the charts, so this just goes to show how ahead of her time she is.

Yassmin Abdel-Majied and Aziza Hassan in Brooklyn on 8/19/16
Yassmin Abdel-Magied and #BrooklynGirlCode Creator, Aziza Hassan in Brooklyn on August 19th, 2016

Yassmin also mentions Drake (of course), Janelle Monae, and a few other popular artists that she enjoys listening to, to keep her up while out on the oil rigs. She then asks me who some of my favorite artists are and I reply with the usual, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and Nas. I also tell her that I enjoy listening to all types of Trap music and that more recently I’ve been listening to Nigerian-American artist, Jidenna. After promising to exchange our favorite music playlists online at a later time, Yassmin wishes me well in all my future endeavors and rushes off to her next appointment. Still, the short time that we got to meet and chat about our lives over coffee in that small patisserie on a warm summer day in Brooklyn brought memories that will last a lifetime.

Check out Yassmin’s blog Redefining The Narrative and her critically-acclaimed book Yassmin’s Story in bookstores now.

Yassmin's Story

UPDATE: On June 5th, 2020 Yassmin Abdel-Magied wrote a feature article for TIME magazine on systemic racism and its origins titled, Why the Protests in the U.S. Are an Awakening for Non-Black People Around the World.