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Women Keeping Our History Alive!

by Wendy Gladney on 03/11/19

Years ago, when I moved to Los Angeles to attend college at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) I was introduced to an organization called, “Our Authors Study Club.” Over the years I’ve had the privilege of being associated with them in various capacities and a couple of years ago I was even honored by them.  Originally, I was drawn to them because of their name.  At the time I was not an author and didn’t even know I would become one, but there was something about their name that spoke to me.  After I became more familiar with their mission and realized they are affiliated with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), it became clear to me why I had such a fascination with them because of my love for history and especially our history.

In continuing with the celebration of Women’s History Month, I wanted to shed some light on the work Our Authors Study Club continues to do in our community. I salute those women who have been committed to the work and mission of the group and have made sacrifices over the years to keep it going.  Sometimes we forget about the quiet sheroes that work behind the scenes, not for fame or fortune, but because they are committed to a work and cause.  Women such as Mordena Moore, Sandra Evers-Manly, Berlinda Fontenot-Jamerson, Charisse Bremond-Weaver, Dr. Toni-Mokjaeti Hume, Ernestine Gordon and the late Dr. Genevieve Shepherd to name a few. Thank you, ladies, for your commitment to keeping our history and legacy alive.

The organization holds several events and activities throughout the year, especially during February when the country celebrates Black History Month; however, this month they will hold their Dr. Carter G. Woodson (founder of ASALH) Scholarship and Awards Luncheon.  This event really speaks to me because they will be presenting several youth with scholarships to help them continue their education after high school.  Forgiving For Living, Inc., (the organization I founded in 1999 to help girls by teaching them necessary life skills and providing mentorship) supports them in this effort. Not only will they be presenting scholarships to our youth, but they will also be honoring several individuals from the community.  The theme this year is, “Community Icons.”  One of their awardees is Pamela Bakewell who wears many hats. She is Chief Operating Officer/EVP at the Bakewell Company/Los Angeles Sentinel and she is committed to keeping the legacy alive of the family nonprofit, Sabriya’s Castle.  She truly represents the definition of being a community icon.

Keeping everything in the community, the luncheon will be held at the Museum of African American Art at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza inside Macy’s on the third floor.  They will also have live entertainment during the event.  Lena Horne said, “it's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.” As women (and as a people) history has shown that when we try to do things by ourselves, we are prone to fail, but when we come together and help each other we are more likely to succeed. We don’t have to carry the concerns of the world (or our community) by ourselves.  Let’s come together and support our young people, as well as our community icons that make a difference in our society every day.  I hope to see you there on Saturday, March 16th! 

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

The International Women of Courage Celebration Comes to Los Angeles!

by Wendy Gladney on 03/04/19

In 1980 President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first week of March as Women’s History Week.  Seven years later Congress declared the entire month of March as Women’s History Month.  I find it sadly ironic that we need legislative reminders to celebrate and remember the accomplishments of various people and communities.  However, I am grateful that the work of women is being celebrated nonetheless! Across the country, March 8th has been designated as, “International Women’s Day” where people celebrate and honor women worldwide.

On Monday, March 18th and Tuesday, March 19th both the American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) and the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles (IVCLA), two boards on which I have the pleasure of sitting, will serve as hosts to the 12th “International Women of Courage (IWOC) Celebration.”  This celebration is in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State.  The celebration highlights the work and sacrifices of women from around the globe and was started in 2007 by the U.S. Department of State, under the leadership of Secretary Condoleezza Rice. After the ceremony in Washington, D.C., (centered around International Women’s Day on March 8th), the women travel to various cities across the U.S., where different organizations highlight their work through various platforms. Los Angeles is one of their stops.

On Monday, March 18th the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles (IVCLA), under the leadership of President Janet Elliott, will host what they are calling, “Perseverance Through Adversity,” where they will highlight women from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Western Hemisphere. They will hold a conversation with the women where MyKhanh Shelton, Senior Vice President for Global Inclusion, Engagement and Diversity at 21st Century Fox, will moderate the discussion with the women.  This event will take place at the Tom Bradley Room inside Los Angeles City Hall.  Attendees will have an opportunity to hear from the women as well as ask questions.  To learn more visit www.ivcla.org.

The following evening, on Tuesday, March 19th, the American Women for International Understanding (AWIU), under the leadership of President Maria Schory and Nancy Annick, Chair 2019 IWOC Celebration Committee, will host a dinner at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles where Emmy Award-winning journalist Norah O’Donnell has been named the Honorary Chair for the IWOC 2019 Celebration. One of our local community leaders, Elaine Batchlor, MD, MPH, Chief Executive Officer for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, will serve as one of the Honorary Committee Members.  AWIU is proud to provide each one of the Women of Courage a grant to help them continue the vital work they do back home in their communities. To learn more visit www.awiu.org.

As we bring attention this month to various women that have made history or have accomplished amazing feats, let’s not forget to remember the women right in our own backyards that sacrifice and work hard every day to make their communities a better place.  Whether it is our mothers, teachers, doctors, or the neighbor next door that is always there to help, take time to pause and tell her thank you for all the ways she has sown goodness into your life and helped you along your journey.  #Women #Empowerment #AWIU #IWOC #IVCLA 

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

 Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

Harold & Belles Restaurant Turns 50!

by Wendy Gladney on 02/25/19

For over 25 years I’ve been working with and serving clients in the greater Southern California area with most of my work focused in the Los Angeles area.  Although a lot of my work is in Los Angeles, I was born and raised in the Inland Empire, which is where I still reside. So whenever I have to work in L.A., I always look for local spots to hold meetings. One of my favorite locations has always been Harold & Belle’s Restaurant.  I even had my own special table where the staff would seat me whenever it was available. Long before I ever had the chance to meet the family, Harold & Belle’s felt like a second home to me. My favorite dish to this day is their charbroiled oysters.

Harold & Belle’s Restaurant is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year and there are not a lot of restaurants, especially African American owned, that are still in business after 50 years. The restaurant started as a dream by Harold Legaux, Sr., in 1969.  Mr. Legaux was a native of New Orleans and he wanted to bring a little of that flavor to Los Angeles.  He and his wife, Mary Belle, served Creole cuisine to the West Jefferson area of Los Angeles serving dishes such as filé gumbo, étouffée, and other Creole classics.  It was a place where friends and family could gather, talk about old times, shoot pool, and socialize. His kitchen was small but had deep roots.

In 1979 Harold, Jr., and his wife Denise, took over the business when his father passed away. Unlike his father, who enjoyed pool playing and a bar atmosphere, the younger Harold preferred a finer dining experience with tablecloths and soft lighting. Harold, Jr., like his father, had a penchant for New Orleans style cuisine, so he introduced several new items to the menu, including his version of shrimp scampi, shrimp creole, crawfish étouffée, and clam chowder. He even offered filé gumbo every day of the week (instead of just on Fridays). To help the restaurant grow, in 1984 he expanded the restaurant from 12 to 35 dining tables and tripled the size of the kitchen. In 2011, Harold, Jr. passed away and the restaurant was passed down to the third generation.

Ryan and Jessica Legaux represent the third generation to take over the legacy of Harold & Belle’s. Together the two have expanded the brand of Harold & Belle’s through various avenues, including their food trailer, Harold & Belle’s To Geaux; Harold & Belle’s Creole Seasoning; and by adding a state-of-the-art banquet room called the Peacock Lounge.  There’s even a room called, “the Board Room,” that provides an intimate setting for small private events or meetings. The couple have also increased their catering options to take the delicacies out of the restaurant to your front door. The restaurant continues to be a mainstay in the community, Ryan and Jessica hope to take the restaurant into the future with a redesigned and updated menu that maintains the essence of what has made Harold & Belle’s a local favorite for 50 years, while considering the taste buds for the new millennials.  Live entertainment is also provided in the bar on Friday and Saturday nights to profile local talent.

As far as I am concerned anybody or anything that stays around for 50 years deserves to be celebrated and I plan to continue holding court at a table filled with charbroiled oysters, a glass of iced tea and, oh yes, let’s not forget about the beignets.  I’m ready to celebrate Mardi Gras. Happy Anniversary!  #HaroldandBelles50th

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

“Civil Rights: Progression or Regression?”

by Wendy Gladney on 02/18/19

I was born of a white mother and a black father in 1961 in Southern California during a time when America was experiencing segregation across the nation.  Although many of us in California did not feel the same effects as many of our relatives in the South, segregation was still alive and well throughout the country. The Civil Rights Movement was in its beginning stages and the 50’s and 60’s were pivotal in changing the face and climate of America. The Civil Rights Movement was organized by African Americans with the goal to help end racial discrimination and provide equal rights to all under the law.

1954 – Brown v. Board of Education

1955 – Emmett Till was murdered.

1955 – Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus.

1957 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became a voice for change.  The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was formed.

1957 – The Civil Rights Act (to protect Voting Rights)

1960 – Sit-ins in North Carolina and the Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was formed.

1961 – We hear about the Freedom Riders.

1963 – The March on Washington

1964 – The Civil Rights Act of 1964

1965 – Malcom X was assassinated.

1965 – The Voting Rights Act of 1965

1965 – The Race Riots in Watts, California

1966 – The Black Panthers were formed.

1968 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated.

1968 – The Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Housing)

These are just a few of the highlights that occurred regarding the efforts made by many to help eradicate discrimination towards African Americans (which ultimately would help all Americans).  There were many (black and white) people that sacrificed and gave of their time, talent and resources to help make this country an America for all.  The question today is: are we going backwards regarding the progress that was made just 50 years ago?  When I look at some of the very issues we are plagued with today, I feel like time has stood still.

Sometimes I think it is important to pause and reflect on the past so we can remember where we’ve come from. Looking back helps us to remember those who have sacrificed for the freedoms we all experience today.  As the granddaughter of Rebecca Ruth Reed Harris, first born free in our family (born at the turn of the century), I was raised with the daily reminders of a family that migrated from the South to California in the hopes of a better life.  She taught me to be proud of who I am and to always remember where I came from.  As I hope for the future, I can’t help but look back and say thank you to my ancestors (and others) who died so that I, and my children, can live in the hope of the dream for a better life. Thank you! #BlackHistoryMonth365

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

Are You Feeling Loved?

by Wendy Gladney on 02/11/19

When I think back as far as elementary school, I remember how exciting it was to go to the store and buy the packages of Valentine’s Day Cards. It was such a big deal to bring them home and write your name on the cards, along with the names of your classmates on each of the envelopes.  I found it interesting how there were usually just enough cards in the package to give one to each student in my class and a special one for the teacher. It was as if the card companies knew exactly how many children were in classrooms across America.  On Valentine’s Day we would have a little party that usually consisted of a heart-shaped cookie and punch, and we would go around and give each other our valentines.  If my memory serves me correctly, there always seemed to be that “special someone” you hoped would give you a card and if they didn’t your little heart would drop to the floor.

Well, truth be told, most grown people have the same hopes and desires to be remembered by that special someone on Valentine’s Day. We all search for love and sometimes even in all the wrong places. We look to others to validate us and make us feel good about ourselves because someone loves us.  Believe me when I say I am a sucker for love and even after being married and divorced, I haven’t given up on the hope of having true love and even getting married again one day. But what I’ve learned in all the searching (or hoping) is that we must start with loving ourselves. In the movie Jerry Maguire, there was a line that said, “You complete me.”  I believe that it’s not until we feel complete within ourselves that we can attract the right person who will come alongside and compliment us.

Recently a friend called to check on me and he asked how my grandson Grayson was doing.  I told him that he was growing and that on a regular basis he fills my little love tank.  He went on to say, “I bet he brings out love bones in you that you didn’t even know existed!” As I thought about that question it made me reflect on how true that statement really is. When we experience love that comes from a pure place, where the only thing that person wants is you, it fills you up in such a way that you never feel empty.  You feel appreciated and valued.  The look in their eyes makes you feel like you matter and it’s not about what you buy for them, but rather it’s about how safe and secure they feel with you.

Maya Angelou said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” For me I know this to be true because even when you love someone or someone loves you, they may do or say some hurtful things, but at the end of the day those wounds can be healed by how they make you feel.  If they come back around and apologize (and they mean it) or if they are willing to sit down and talk things out to obtain a better understanding of what they did to hurt you, in the end you might not even remember what they said because you feel better. 

This Valentine’s Day if you celebrate with that special someone (or even if you just go out with the girls and have a “Galentine’s Day”), remember to be grateful for all the positive things that are in your life and all the loved ones that do care about you.  No matter what you may have gone through over the past year, or even over several years, remember that you are still in the fight and that to feel love, it’s as easy as just giving love! 

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com.