If you felt something powerful Easter Sunday it was likely the resurrection experience within the historical chambers of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Theater in Seattle, WA. "Resurrection Wonder" was the theme for Wonder of Women International’s (WOW) second inaugural community wide celebration. Much more than another event, it was an experience laden with the magical testament of melanin women and the undeniable power of standing in your truth in community.
WOW's Founder & Visionary, Veronica Very, set the tone for the experience by addressing the gentrification of the historically black central district lifting the audience from their seats and into a community chorus of Donny Hathaway’s, The Ghetto.
The celebration was truly an evening of divine artistic expression where storytelling intersected brilliant Black arts. The auditorium was filled with the healing sounds of recording artists such as singer/songwriter Anhayla who performed original material ‘Take Away’ and ‘Keep My Peace’. Gospel vocalist Robin Henderson and spoken word artist Sean Goode collaborated to give a church, hip hop inspired performance of 'Love Lifted Me’ that had people on their feet. The powerful rumble of the extraordinary opening tap dance performance by La’Twon Allen with the live musical accompaniment of Carl Ratcliffe & Friends inspired every person to the high place of love, light and liberation, as Visual Artist Aramis Hamer was elegantly positioned stage right throughout the evening painting a one of a kind piece as the audience looked on and the stories flowed from center stage.
The night was an overall powerhouse of uplifting energy of the highest caliber. The most impactful component of the evening was the visual celebration and power of the Black woman’s story. The bold cast of Storytellers included: 14 year-old poet Rena Mateja, spoken word artist Kamari Bright, Veronica Very, Vanessa Elam, Anhayla Stanley, LaTicia 'Action' Jackson and Dr. Vikki Johnson. Our heart strings were connected with every storytellers verbose celebration of standing in their truth and rising from their own spiritual tombs into their promise and power, as each storyteller donned a beautiful white garment and bare feet while projecting, singing and literally proclaiming their individual experiences in a fashion that only WOW is known for.
"When the stories began these incredible women filled and inspired me to keep moving forward in my truth”! Said Tara Clark, Founder, Spread Love to Believe Love Unite Movement.
This annual inaugural experience welcomes men and women of all races to celebrate black excellence in loving community. It’s an opportunity for everyone to listen, learn and be inspired together. Throughout the year, Black women and girls (WOW Sisters) do their life-work privately through life affirming workshops and retreats. With every story that was told, a testimony was made to the power of rising again and again!
Another highlight of the evening was the announcement of WOW's first National Crown Jewel Awardee. Vanessa Garrison, C0-Founder/COO of GirlTrek, was honored and recognized for her tireless work creating sacred healing space for black women and girls to find their voice, stand in their truth and celebrate their wonder across the nation through Girltrek. The award was especially fitting since Vanessa is from Seattle, WA.
Topping off this amazing evening the community gathered in the Great Hall where they celebrated the life that was created over champagne, apple cider and of course lots of photos. We laughed, cried and rejoiced in the wonder that resurrection can bring. Everyone went home with the resurrected power of their own voice and wonder.
“I’ve learned the Resurrection wasn’t just for me, but of me”! Said WOW Founding Storyteller Dr. Phillis Mims-Gillum. It is these words, that the entire experience of the event is holistically described and truly speaks to the force that IS the Wonder of Women.
Tierra Monique Johnson is an Author/WOW Staff Journalist and co-founder of Education Unchained. Tierra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Photo Credit: WOW Staff Photographer Lanika Exkano