by: Michael Cunningham and Connie Briscoe
Published by: Little, Brown & Company
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Reviewed by Connie Anderson
Subtitled: Phenomenal Black Women over 50
Award-winning photographer Michael Cunningham collaborated with New York Times bestselling novelist Connie Brisco to bring us a beautiful photo essay book about women over 50.
Jewels profiles 50 women who are African-American. Cunningham's photos, as in his fabulous Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats, captures their strength and spirit, their energy and enthusiasm, and their pride and confidence.
Connie Briscoe adds her crisp prose from interviewing the women to show why each one is a "jewel."
Some names I recognized--people in the public eye like actors, poets, public leaders such as actress Ruby Dee, S. Epatha Merkerson (the detective on Law and Order), Hattie Winston (the snappy nurse on TV's Becker) and of course, Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of Children's Defense Fund. Some others are company presidents and leaders in business, education and the community.
Most of the women gave a lot of credit for their upbringing for making them who they are. They received love and stability--and were made to believe they could shoot for the stars. These women seized opportunity, while others created it.
Many overcame humble beginnings, early death of parent, divorce, and disability. The key for many seemed to be the unwavering expectation that they do well--regardless.
"My life is proof that you never know what you have inside you until it's called upon. I know I didn't." -- Patricia Banks, age 71.
Just imagine the changes someone like Billie Allen, 81, actor and director, has experienced as a black person--and as a black woman in her years.
One of the 50 is Faith Childs, 55, a literary agent who deemed that much of what is written does not represent her African-American experience--and plays more on the negative stereotypes. She represents authors, not just black writers--and looks for more good writers to tell good and accurate stories.
This is a wonderful book for black families to encourage their children and understand what others have done who have gone before. This is a stunning book for its photographs complemented by heartfelt stories. This is an important read for all women over 50. It's a book you can learn from -- I did.
Armchair Interview says: Winners of hard-won battles, these 50 women tell stories of achievement on all levels.
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