An Unbeatable Corporate Culture – Kellogg’s

“Know the rules well so you can break them effectively.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Dear Friends,

That quote sums up the whole reason I am going to law school. Shhh…don’t tell anyone!

This week, I’ve been traveling to places I’ve never been. The first stop was Battle Creek, Michigan (via Detroit) to visit Kellogg’s corporate headquarters. Yes, the cereal people. They are the ones who have so generously funded our fellowship with the NAACP through their foundation’s commitment to racial equity. We traveled there to meet their legal department and various other company leaders and were greeted with a very friendly and generous welcome. The aspect that stuck out the most to me was the genuinely compassionate corporate culture. Everyone treated everyone else with dignity and respect, and what’s more is that these values are a deliberate and integral part of working at Kellogg. The importance of this might have been lost on me had I not recently experienced the WORST work environment I have ever encountered. The disrespect and indignity was such that my hair was falling out among other things. Being pushed to this extreme has helped me realize how essential emotional stability is at the workplace and how many people (everyone, really) contribute to the success of each person. From now on, I will carry Kellogg’s example with me and try to impart such a culture at my work environments.

Here we go!!

My room/view

A nice surprise!

Visitor tag

We met with several department heads who gave presentations on topics such as diversity and inclusion, leadership, and ethical leadership. These lawyers (and some non-lawyers, too) were truly amazing people who gave me much food for thought on both personal and professional matters. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the trip:

the Fellows and Tony the Tiger

  • “If you don’t want someone who will tell you that you’re wrong and need to be doing something else, you might need to find a different person.” (on interviewing with new companies)
  • “If you’re tolerant of me learning, I’m willing to try.” (on exploring new areas and concepts)
  • “Treat people with respect even when they don’t deserve it. It’s not about them, it’s about us – it’s who we are.”
  • “People give you their best work when they’re engaged and valued.”
  • “This is the question we ask ourselves: how does everyone walk away feeling like this is a win-win?”
  • “Diversity is about the people; inclusion is about the environment.”
  • “There is a cost to intolerance.”
  • “We make a product free from discrimination and hate. We are a company with a soul.”

2012 Kellogg’s NAACP Law Fellows with General Counsel Gary Pilnick

2012 Kellogg’s NAACP Law Fellows with Senior Counsel Mary Fair-Matthews (our biggest advocate at Kellogg)

Something else that I really appreciated about Kellogg is that the W. K. Kellogg Foundation owns 1/3 of the corporation’s shares. This means that their dividends, or the pay out they receive from owning the stock, goes back into funding projects centered on racial equity (such as the NAACP Law Fellows program!) instead of into some 1%-er’s pockets. In a time where corporate profits are at their highest, I’m proud to say that Kellogg is investing in healing and communities.

What a great experience! I’m so thankful to Kellogg for so many reasons.

a pleasant surprise! Brittany, Soror Nicole Perry (Kellogg attorney), and I

Before I took my second trip this week, we had a farewell luncheon for the fellows at work that doubled as a bridal celebration for our general counsel (she’s getting married next weekend!!). I keep asking myself how this can almost be over! I can’t get too soppy yet – there’s still one week to go :)

2012 Kellogg’s Law Fellows and NAACP General Counsel Kim Kennan (soon Blackburne!)

my lovely parting gift!!

This weekend, I took a day trip to visit my sister from another mister in Harrisburg, PA. I met Ashley at my French host father’s house 3 years ago and our relationship is still strong! She helped bring me back to life after a difficult year abroad. She means so much to me.

Ashley Houston and I – sisterhood forged in France!!

Harrisburg was a lot like Little Rock in size and demographics. We walked around downtown, got chased by an unknown mammal near the capitol building, ate Venezuelan food (yummmm), and caught up on each other’s lives. She is moving soon to start her MPA with a concentration on non-profit management. Yes for moving on and moving up!!

Venezuela! Arepas (chorizo con papas), sweet plantains, and fried queso

the Pennsylvania capitol building

the capitol’s hunger garden – like!

sculptures at the capitol – notice how the man is modestly covered while the woman is buck naked – DISLIKE

Happy 51st Birthday to our brave and progressive President Barack Obama!

Leos – hear us ROAR!!

Well, good people, that’s all for now. I’m so thankful for everything. Life is so good.

One Love,


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Courage Will Not Skip This Generation

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our mind.” – Bob Marley

Dear Friends,

Life is great. I’m thankful for what comes to me, good and bad, because the experience makes me stronger.


Summer 2012 Crisis Magazine – official publication of the NAACP

I got tickets to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s tribute to Michael Jackson and it was AMAZING. For a fraction of the Cirque du Soliel price, I was enchanted for two hours by not only the very talented orchestra, but also with the vocals of James Delisco, a reality TV star and Las Vegas showman. The man did it all – singing, dancing, costumes, the works. The only way I would have enjoyed it more is if I didn’t have to run 5 blocks in the rain to my car when it was over!


Pier 6 Pavilion – where the concert was held


James Delisco and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

On Friday, we were invited back to DLA Piper for their Lawyer’s Luncheon where the guest speaker was Maryland’s Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. The man was amazing and dynamic: adoptive father from the foster care system, Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, highest ranking elected official that has served a tour of duty in Iraq, and the second African American to be elected to a statewide office in Maryland. He is progressive in his politics with an eye towards eliminating disparities among racial and ethnic groups. It was very exciting to meet him and hear his vision for the future of Maryland.


Anthony Ashton (partner at DLA Piper), Lance Greene, me, Brittany Gause, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, D’Ann Bey, Shannine Anderson, Erika Dupree, Kevin Sanidad, and Victor Goode (Asst. Gen. Counsel at NAACP)

After the luncheon, we were able to sit down with two partners at DLA Piper to discuss career strategies and life at big firms. While this is not my interest, I enjoyed the dialogue with two very accomplished attorneys and the chance to learn more about the work of the biggest law firm in the universe, as they call themselves. Also, I love visiting the Marbury Building. It reminds me of the Emerald City!


The Marbury Building

As part of an assignment at work, I had to travel to the Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington DC to look through some NAACP legal files in relation to the Sweatt v. Painter case. I was excited to get this assignment mainly because I’ve never been to the LOC, but it turned out to be the best assignment I’ve gotten all summer.


Library of Congress – Madison Building

After getting my reader card, I then had to be approved to review documents in the manuscript division. The NAACP archives all of its documents at the LOC, which is cool because the public can access them (for the most part) anytime. I spent hours going through the files, but one of the first documents I read was a letter from Heman Marion Sweatt, the plaintiff in the case, to the Houston Branch of the NAACP. The following portion was incredibly touching for me:


“I am thus more and more convinced that it is up to me to let be known to NAACP authorities that the only certainty that I can express regarding the future of my actions is that I CAN BE POSITIVELY DEPENDED UPON TO ATTEND THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS if we are fortunate enough to gain entrance. This promise I make to keep even at the cost of my life if necessary. I can think of no greater cause for which to give myself without count of cost. The reason is obvious. I will have both contributed to the progress of the American Negro, and at the same time not run to the chance of gaining the martyrdom of fools who from the outset had no chance of gaining anything of value either for a cause or oneself. I fear the latter exists as a great potential unless we maintain proper vigilance over each step as it unfolds.”

Can I tell you that I was crying my eyes out?? Sweatt v. Painter was a landmark case that began the dismantling of the Plessey v. Ferguson “separate but equal” doctrine. It challenged segregation in higher education and was key precedent for Brown v. Board of Education. I held Mr. Sweatt’s transcripts in my hands. I held correspondence written by Thurgood Marshall himself in my hands. I read through files of the historic and heroic actions that allowed me to be where I am today – that allowed us all to be where we are. It was overwhelming for me to experience this. Reading the words of Mr. Sweatt, a young, courageous, aspiring attorney, made me truly realize what the NAACP has been telling me all summer – courage will not, AND MUST NOT, skip this generation.





I’ve had extraordinary experiences here and I’ll carry them with me home and beyond. Speaking of home, today I met a leader in the NAACP and in Arkansas. I’ve been hearing Reverend Charles White’s name from two of my best friends as a strong voice for justice and wisdom for many years. He serves as the field organizer for adult branches in the organization, and a short conversation with him revealed allied purposes and mutual respect. I look forward to what we might accomplish together.


Rev. Charles White, Jr. and I

Well, friends, tomorrow I go to Battle Creek, Michigan to experience Kellogg’s Headquarters and meet the people who have made this fellowship possible. Updates soon!

One love,



Representing Assata Shakur (shirt)

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103rd NAACP National Convention – Houston, Texas

103rd NAACP National Convention – Houston, Texas


Meeting My Heroes

 Dear Friends,

This summer has been a huge opportunity to experience and grow. I’ve met people whom I’ve loved and respected for many, many years and some who I have recently come to know and admire. I’ve never been as excited to work anywhere as I am to be at the NAACP. I know I will look back on this as a pivotal experience for all the days of my life.


But before I delve into my convention experience, let me share with you some photos from the Fourth of July (not referred to here as “Independence Day”) in our nation’s capital. I watched the fireworks from Arlington National Cemetery as they were displayed over the National Mall. In the pictures, you can see the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Lovely!


Fireworks in Washington DC

For the first time in my life, I attended the NAACP Annual Convention on July 7-13, 2012. This year’s 103rd meeting took place in Houston, Texas. I can’t even begin to describe what an amazing week it was. I am still processing everything that happened, which is why this post is so delayed.


Convention theme: Your Power, Your Decision – VOTE!

The week began with checking in at the Hilton Americas, which was connected to the convention center where the annual meeting was housed. Immediately afterward, the Fellows and I set out for our first convention reception. When I walked in the door, I met Dallas Jones, the former regional director for my region (Region VI!!!!) when I was a NAACP college chapter president at the University of Arkansas. Throughout the convention, I met several more people who were key in the organization as I began my long-term relationship with the NAACP in my college days including Soror Stefanie Brown who has now moved on to play a key organizing role in the Obama campaign (Obama ’12!!!)


so official


the Hilton Americas


my room/view

My major duties as a staff member in this convention were to 1) facilitate and moderate two continuing legal education (CLE) seminars, 2) assist our attorneys in the legal department office, and 3) aid in the general body’s resolutions process. For the past 28 years, the NAACP has provided two days of CLEs to assist attorneys, mostly practicing in the area of civil rights, as well as NAACP branch legal redress chairs and any other interested parties by providing up-to-date information on relevant issues facing civil rights while providing CLE credit that attorneys need to accumulate annually to maintain their license to practice. My CLE topics were 1) How to Try a Race Case and 2) Ethics: Challenges in Representing Organizational Clients. I may be somewhat (read as: extremely) biased, but my panelists were among the most prolific and dynamic speakers in the 15 various sessions.


2012 Fellows with Gen. Counsel Kim Kennan and Asst. Gen. Counsels Dorcas Gilmore, Victor Goode, and Anson Asaka


Our office

My first session, organized as a brown bag lunch, was led by Mr. Craig Washington, a lifetime public servant and civil rights attorney who shared a powerful call to action with his audience. He started with the proposition that we are almost back to the times of Plessey v. Ferguson (decision that upheld “separate but equal” doctrine) as we have a President whose rights are not to be respected as people want to “take their country back,” bring guns to rallies, and demonstrate by hanging President Obama in effigy (google it). From there, he outlined his 40+ years of experience as a civil rights and criminal defense attorney and spoke a great deal about inherent bias. He referenced Harvard’s implicit association test as described in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. (Link to test: He said that the results are astounding and astonishing for even the most liberal people, which “doesn’t mean that everyone is racist, it means that there is racism.” (I took the test myself and the results say that I exhibit little to no automatic preference between European Americans and African Americans). I could really go on for a while about Mr. Washington’s presentation, but I’ll end by saying not only did I learn important lessons from him, but I gained a teacher and a friend in the process.

Some quotes from Mr. Washington’s seminar:

  • Justice is for all of us – we must show up (speaking on jury duty)
  • Playing the race card means it had to be dealt and we are not dealing the cards
  • If we accept what is, we are at fault
  • We know what the law is, but we do what we think it should be (speaking as a civil rights attorney)
  • No matter if children are being uneducated intentionally or unintentionally, the result is the same


Mr. Craig Washington

My other seminar, an ethics panel, was the concluding session in our two day CLE offering. The two gentlemen who spoke, Mr. John Harper and Mr. Jonathan Smaby, were long-time practitioners in the fields of labor law and legal ethics. Their presentation was fundamental to the work many of us do in supporting nonprofits, organizations such as the NAACP, or corporations. Many of the hypos posed by attorneys in the audience during this session were both frightening and appalling – especially when describing actions taken by colleagues and judges. I won’t get on my soapbox about regulation of legal ethics, but let’s just say that there is, indeed, an ethical code that we are supposed to follow in regards to our practice.


Mr. John Harper and Mr. Jonathan Smaby

On Sunday night, Chairwoman Roslyn Brock held an offsite, invitation only reception to which we were given tickets by a wonderful colleague. Let me say, the décor was STUNNING. There were satin table cloths fashioned like purple roses, purple chair dressings, just amazing. This was the Fellows’ first opportunity to dress up and go out, and we really enjoyed ourselves. This was the first and last “evening event” I attended, but make no mistake – there were multiple parties and receptions every night. I just couldn’t (and wouldn’t) hang. Instead, I got to hang out with some of my best, best friends who I haven’t seen for a long time (Shatyra Williams – a bestie since boarding school and Colette McFalls – my Soror and link from another chapter). I consider my time very well spent in this regard.


Ladies at the Chairwoman’s Reception – 1) D’Ann, Brittany, me, Shannine 2) Sorors Brittany and I


Lovely decorations


Shatyra and I

After CLEs concluded, our main responsibility was facilitating the resolutions process. Each chapter’s voting delegate (usually the president) comes to the resolutions process ready to adopt or amend any number of resolutions, or action items, presented for approval by the general body for the organization. This meeting effectively sets the agenda for the NAACP until its next convention. I was asked to sit on stage and real-time edit the resolutions on screen while delegates proposed amendments from the floor. This turned out to be a HUGE responsibility!!!


Working during resolutions


My view from stage


my credentials


Arkansas represent!

And guess who came to address the body during the meeting – United States Attorney General Eric Holder!!! I was seated literally 10 feet away from him while he spoke about the right-wing attack on the right to vote. While he was there, we adopted a resolution to support him in the face of his contempt charge. Needless to say, the resolutions process was mind-blowing and exciting to the extreme.


1) AG Holder speaking 2) voting to approve the resolution in his support

My goodness so that wasn’t even the biggest thing. Since I was little and learned anything about the NAACP, Julian Bond was the constant face of the organization. During his tenure as Chairman of the Board, the organization went through several different presidents and other various leadership changes, but he remained as a symbol of consistency and tenacity. Needless to say, he’s been one of the biggest heroes in my short lifetime. The first time I saw him at convention, I walked past him waving like a loon. When I finally got to meet him, I had somewhat come to terms with my star struck-ness (my colleagues might argue otherwise) and was able to have a conversation with him (AHHHHHHH!!!!!) He shared with me that his wife (a white woman, by the way) was a hero in her own right, having secured landmark decisions that allowed women to serve as prison guards, among other things. WOW!!


the Fellows and Julian Bond

So I met him at the Clarence Mitchell, Jr. Luncheon where we, as Fellows, were recognized, and where Craig Watkins, the first black District Attorney IN TEXAS (elected only 5 years ago), spoke. This was also the first time I heard the current NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous speak. Days before the convention, his first son was born (blessing) and we thought he might not make it. Although I haven’t been able to meet him (yet), I am inspired by his new agenda for the organization and the hope that young people will have a much larger stake in the ownership of the NAACP.

President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond, and Texas Congressman Al Green


2012 Kellogg’s NAACP Law Fellows

Upon reviewing the convention agenda, I discovered that Dr. Walter Kimbrough, former president of Philander Smith College in Little Rock, was to give the keynote lecture at the Roy Wilkins Youth and College Leadership Luncheon. I lucked up on some tickets and ended up sitting at the head table beside Cynthia M.A. Butler-McIntyre, President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (AHHHHHH!!!!) I got to have a conversation with her about my dear Lambda Theta, the chapter where I was born into this great sisterhood. Not only was that thrilling, but Dr. Kimbrough, now the president of Dillard University in New Orleans – also where Madame President attended college and pledged our sorority, delivered the most inspiring and, personally, my favorite speech of the entire convention (a damn hard call – I heard some excellent speeches). His message was centered on our dear Brother (Rodney) King’s famous words “Can’t we all just get along?”


the ticket

ImageDr. Kimbrough rocking the mic


Madame President’s credentials

That’s a lot, right?! And I haven’t even mentioned Mitt Romney (ha!), Vice President Joe Biden, or Viola Davis. In those respects, I’ll keep it short. It was national news that Romney got booed during his speech. The reason being, of course, is that he vowed to repeal Obamacare, among other things. Well, duh! Word on the street is that he also flew in his own (covert) black people to give the appearance that members of the audience agreed and approved of his message. Malarkey! It was probably the first time in his poor little life he was ever booed, so I posit that it was a necessary and character-building experience for him. Vice President Biden (and not President Obama :( ) made a great speech on the perils of a Romney presidency, but not before shouting out his long-time friend and colleague – a guy named Mouse – in the audience. This is one cool and smooth brother. Viola Davis (Aibileen from The Help) delivered the final speech at the Freedom Fund Banquet, which was among the best I heard the entire week. Not only did she freely wear hair natural hair (beautiful), she spoke of the importance of voting based on the blood of our ancestors that was spilled to pay for the precious right.


Mitt Romney, Vice President Joe Biden, Viola Davis


2012 Fellows at the Freedom Fund Banquet

In probably the biggest news of the week, I FINISHED MY CLINTON SCHOOL THESIS/CAPSTONE PROJECT. I’m waiting to hear more about the defense of my project, but I’m so happy to be done with a 27 page deliverable and 33 page final project report. Thank you to everyone who supported me through my Clinton School journey, but please remain vigilant. We are not finished yet.


To celebrate finishing Capstone, I stayed in and ordered room service. YUMMO


the Fellows and I :)

When I came back from convention, my godsister, Robin Terry, and I had tickets for the Cirque du Soleil Michael Jackson show in DC. I’ve only seen one other Cirque show, so I’m not sure why my expectations were so high, but I was somewhat disappointed when the curtain closed. Has anyone else seen it? Thoughts?


Godsis and I Michael Jackson ready!!

My heart and prayers go out to the families affected by the Aurora, Colorado shooting over the past weekend. I sincerely hope that our country will soon realize the importance of mental health in a person’s overall well-being.


Commemorative poster by artist Frank Frazier

My time in Baltimore is coming to a close in three short weeks and there are still so many things to look forward to. Last night, Brittany (Soror Fellow) and I went on a date to a jazz joint called Club 347 in downtown Baltimore for their jam session night. So many talented musicians and singers graced the stage that I WILL be hitting it up every Monday night until I’m gone.


Club 347 Monday Night Jam Session

Good luck to all my bar exam takers (and passers)! Especially my cohort from the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law.

That’s all for now, dear friends. See you soon!

Much love,



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Historic Times

“Defeat is a state of mind: no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.” – Bruce Lee

Dear friends,

It’s the end of my fourth week at the NAACP and even by this point, it’s been the experience of a lifetime. I haven’t been writing much (sorry!) but here are some of the highlights:

I finally got a picture of all of the fellows! Allow me to introduce the 10th Anniversary Kellogg’s NAACP Law Fellows:

Lance Greene, Shannine Anderson, Brittany Gause, D’Ann Bey, me, and Kevin Sanidad.

I’m enjoying my time with the group. Here’s another picture of us along with an intern in the department, Erika Dupree.

These are our official pictures for the 103rd National Convention being held in Houston, Texas on July 7-13, 2012. I’ll be moderating two CLE seminars: How to Try a Race Case and Ethics II: Challenges of Representing Organizational Clients. This is the first time I’ll be attending an NAACP national convention and I’m really excited! Some of the attendees include Attorney General Eric Holder (I oppose his contempt citation!! Bad election politics!!), Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, President Cynthia Butler-McIntyre of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc., and hopefully President Obama!!!

An exciting moment – meeting Attorney General Eric Holder at the Clinton School

Last week, we were invited to the Wiley A. Branton Awards hosted by the Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Dedicated civil rights attorneys were recognized in the spirit of Wiley Branton, Sr., a legendary civil rights attorney born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Yea!!

Wiley A. Branton Awards Luncheon

We also visited the Baltimore office of the largest law firm in the world, DLA Piper. NAACP is partnering with them on some pro bono work and we got to sit in on the initial meeting with partner Anthony Ashton. Afterwards, he invited us to see his band, The Spindles, perform in a summer concert series over the weekend. Well, the only thing he had to say was “Motown cover band” and I was sold.

Those brothers were SHARP and they sounded great! Mr. Ashton was on the trumpet.

I’ll always remember that I was at the NAACP when the Affordable Care Act decision was announced. What an exciting step forward. And today, I got to visit the Supreme Court!! We were given a tour by an attorney in the Office of Legal Counsel – the Justices’ attorney! And guess what…

She’s a Soror! OO-OOP!! (Brittany is, too!)

Dear friends, I’m walking in historic steps. Can I, too, make a difference in people’s lives?

 SCOTUS Scenes: The Courtroom, a conference room, the basketball court above the courtroom, NAACP attorneys, Justice Thurgood Marshall, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor, and Lady Justice

Fun story: I shot a couple of jumpers on the basketball court. President Obama has played there :)

NAACP at the Supreme Court: Shannine, Erika, me, Lance, D’Ann, Brittany, Kevin, and Assistant General Counsel Anson Asaka (seated)

In short, I’m loving what I’m doing. I promise to try to write more on here. Time is passing so quickly. I’m growing so much.

Headquarters Scenes: The Henry Lee Moon Library, the wall at Crisis Magazine, Walter White Way, NAACP National Headquarters building

Look who it is!

I hope everyone is doing well. I love you all!



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Justice Forever

“Meeting hate with hate and anger with anger only poisons your own being and has no effect on your enemies.” – Medgar Evers

Dear Friends,

Hello again! I recently graduated with a Masters of Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service with happiness.


Currently, I’m living in Baltimore, MD to serve as a 2012 Law Fellow at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Legal Department, and I’ve decided to keep an account of my time here for my friends and family. I will endeavor to put the excitement of walking in my purpose into words. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more like I’m in the right places learning the right things and meeting the right people. Ever. (but maybe I said this about Cape Town :) ).


press release:

So, this is my second week here and I’m beginning to stretch my wings. I finally have a stable residence, which came at the perfect time after my first apartment fell through 3 days before I was supposed to move here. Living in a house like this (alone) leaves a lot of room for dreaming. Realistically, I’ll have a couple of dinner parties and a weekend guest or two, but in the meantime, I’ll be dreaming it full of children :)


my house!

What is it like working at the NAACP you say? The history, the building, my colleagues…it’s all surreal. It’s such a natural fit that it seems like I’ve always been there. Of course, there’s always a learning curve – learning new people, them learning you, some technicalities of the job – but it’s been so smooth. My schedule is Monday – Friday 9:00 – 5:30, but I was there until 7p on the first (and second) day. I’m a recovering workaholic, so let’s just say that it hurts so good. ;)

Image <3

There are 5 other law fellows who are absolutely amazing and we work so well together as a group. I’m looking forward to everything this summer will hold.

ImageShannine and I (pics of other fellows coming soon!)

To celebrate our first day, the legal department took us to lunch at Mo’s Crab and Pasta Factory. If you know me, then you know what I didn’t eat, but this 3 hour lunch was entirely fascinating. Kim Keenan, our general counsel, was there along with the three assistant general counsels and the department’s staff. There was even a cake to celebrate a recent promotion. It feels like family around here.


The Crisis

As always with my legal work, I won’t be able to discuss details about my assignments, but I’m confident that I can keep things interesting. Can you imagine waking every morning to stand on the shoulders of giants? Walking through the same doors as those who fought for what we share today? Speaking the same truth to power as some of the most revered and widely respected civil rights activists we’ve ever known? Every day, I look at pictures of Thurgood Marshall, Charles Hamilton Houston, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, Roy Wilkins, Benjamin Hooks…and I’m humbled. Would they have chosen me to carry this torch?


Medgar Evers in the Henry Lee Moon Library

My first weekend adventure held a place that captured me on my drive from Arkansas – Harpers Ferry. Geographically, it’s situated on the border of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. Historically, it’s known for John Brown’s raid that escalated into the Civil War. All I know is that when traversed the bridges over the Potomac, the rocks and the water called to my soul. I spent my entire Saturday on a rock/island in the middle of the river and plan to go back soon. <3


view from my rock

I’m going to wrap this up and I promise that my next post will be more coherent and detailed:)

I love you all.




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2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 50 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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“You can’t go home again”

Hello Dear Friends,

I’m home.  It took a while to get here, but I made it four continents, four countries, eight cities, and seven times zones later.

Kate and I had such a wonderful time in France, but I had no idea I would miss Cape Town so much or I might have just stayed there for an extra week.  Either way, I can’t express how much this summer taught me.

Kate and I left Cape Town early on Saturday (Aug 6) after throwing away some items (including gifts and cell phones!) to make our luggage lighter.  We flew to Joburg and on to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates to change planes.  We got there around midnight and it was still 95 degrees!  Shortly after, we flew straight to Paris and begin our “summer vacation” with tea and coffee by the Notre Dame de Paris.

Notre Dame de Paris

One of my best friends, Mychael Stewart, rode the train over from his London vacation to be French with us.  I had such a great time introducing them to Paris.  We saw most major sights on the first day:  Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Place de la Concorde, Champs Elysée.

Mykey at the Eiffel Tower

the Louvre

Batman at the Louvre

The second day had more adventures and sights:  Sacré Coeur, Palais Garnier (MY FAVORITE PLACE IN PARIS), Paris Plages, Centre Pompidou, Moulin Rouge, the lock bridge.

the lock bridge

Paris Plages at the Seine

the very talented Koji Matsumoto at the Centre Pompidou

the Palais Garnier

Sacré Coeur

the Moulin Rouge


It took me several trips to Paris to see everything these two saw in two days.  Wooo!

After Mykey went home, Kate and I rode a train to Besançon, the city where I studied (summer 07) and lived/worked (2008-2009).  I started learning French in high school (Arkansas School for Math & Science) and studied it in college (University of Arkansas – Woo Pig Sooie!), which all lead me to study, live, and maintain many close relationships there (and all over France).  When I worked there, I was a primary school (grades 2-4) English teacher.  I taught at three schools to eight different classes – over 150 students total.  It was amazing work that furthered my passion for education and children.

my french cutie pies

Two days there with Kate wasn’t nearly enough to show her everything, but she did meet my host family, former teachers, and dear friends.  We hiked to a beautiful cave, one of my favorite places in the region.  Saw a boat pass through a canal.  Had pastries and Tunisian food.  Lovely two days in my second home.

Kate and the waterfall bridge

hike to the cave

cave and very cold stream

a field of flowers to attract the honey bees

Kate watering flowers

On my birthday eve, Kate and I took a night train from Besançon to Nice.  I had a wonderful birthday on the beach (SUN!!  SUMMER!!) with good food and good company.  Happy 26th to me!

In the days we spent around the south, we went to Grasse, Nice, Cannes, and Monaco.  Sandy beaches.  Rocky beaches.  Perfume smelling.  Crepes eating.  Granita drinking.  Train stations.

Monaco – Prince Albert and Princess Charlene

Monaco harbor

train station life

The night before we left France, we rode a train to Paris to spend the night and leave from Charles de Gaulle on Mon. 15 August.

I was greeted at the airport by my godmother (Jerry Jackson) who took me to my house where my godsister (Robin Terry) was waiting.  Later, my sister (Rickki Benton) came over.  Great homecoming!

I started work the next day at the Office of Student Affairs at my law school (UALR William H. Bowen School of Law).  While I was gone, my boss was advanced to Dean of Admissions and Scholarships (Congrats, Dean Nation!!) because my friend (Aaron Taylor) is now teaching at St. Louis University School of Law (Congrats and good luck!).  My office is in transition while a search is launched for a new dean.

Incoming students are always so exciting to me.  The atmosphere is one of wanting to learn.  Especially at my two schools.

It’s been a smooth transition.  Winter is home.

baby girl

I got my new office today at the Institute.  It used to be the office of a vice provost before the Institute moved in, or as the computer guy told me “the nicest office any student ever had on this campus.”  Thank you, Professor Aiyetoro!!

Institute office

I’ve gotten to see my mama, my two brothers, my mama’s fiancé (congrats mama and Terry!), my grandmother, my best friend, my niece and nephew, coworkers, classmates…all the best parts about coming home.  As I’m sitting here now, the first week of school is over.  It all passes so quickly!  I’m really humbled by my current situation – it’s going to be an amazing year.  Everyone, mark your calendars!  Clinton School of Public Service graduation date:  5/12/2012!!

Anyway friends, this is it.  I want to thank you all for your love and support and time.  I really want to thank Kate for being my friend and my sister :)  I wish you all luck and health!

Welcome Home/Bon Continuance Class 6!!!!  I love you!!

Welcome Clinton School Class 7!

Welcome Bowen School of Law Class of 2014/2015!

Go Razorbacks!

much love,



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Totsiens, Cape Town! Bonjour, Paris!

Dear Friends,

We are now in the final hours.  I don’t feel much urgency or panic, so I take it as a sign that my mind is getting better at making the transition.

We just had a farewell tea for Amooti and I at work.  Very sad to say goodbye to ICTJ Cape Town – mainly because it will not be here when I come back, but I’ll be keeping in touch with Howard and Paddy (two of the best supervisors I’ve ever had).

Tabitha and Howard

Amooti and tab – friends for life

Kate and I went to Archbishop Tutu’s service this morning to receive safe travel blessings and to say goodbye to his son-in-law, our dear friend Mthunzi.  Can I tell you how amazing it is to see the light of recognition in the Arch’s eyes when he greets me or how awesome it is to watch him recognize Kate for her service at his Peace Center?  Absolutely humbling.

Kate, Mthunzi, Tab

Now, we’ll run around a bit to get last minute gifts, finish throwing our stuff in our bags, and go to the airport in the morning.  Today, Cape Town.  Tomorrow, Paris.

Thanks for being with me.  I’ll see you very soon :)  Ciao!

much love,


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Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Dear Friends,

Please take a moment to recognize the birth of our (my) president, Barack Hussein Obama.

Happy 50th Birthday, President Obama!!

Next birthday (after mine 8/12):  President Clinton (8/19)   :)

my heroes

I hope somebody gives him some chocolate cake today.  That’s all a birthday really needs.

With Leo Love,


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An Evening with Nadine Gordimer

Dear Friends,

The last week is upon us. It’s been a pleasure to share my experience here, and I’ll look forward to seeing everyone when I get home on 15 August.

Since time will be short and internet access limited after this week, I’ll try to post a little before I leave.

After work on Monday night, I was able to meet with a connection of my wonderful college (and beyond) mentor, Dr. Johnetta Cross Brazzell (hereinafter Dr. B). Her mentee, Alisha, now lives in Cape Town, but has moved around quite a bit doing monitoring and evaluation work for various NGOs. We had dinner at a restaurant called Headquarters, which features only one selection on their menu – steak, salad, and chips (fries).  Luckily, they had a vegetarian option of portobello mushrooms stuffed with sauteed stems and Parmesan cheese topped with a wonderful butter sauce (I don’t like steak!), which was the whole reason Alisha made reservations at this particular restaurant.  Sorry, no pics, but it was a fantastic meal with great conversation.  Thanks to Dr. B for the connection!!

cupcake from Howard for being gone for the past 2 weeks

Last night, I attended a public lecture with Nadine Gordimer, a literary activist whose work mainly centers around anti-apartheid and political (socially critical) themes and South Africa’s first Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1991. She spoke on her newest work, Telling Times: Writing and Living 1950-2008. It was very interesting to hear a first-hand account of her becoming – how she became socially conscious and the ideas behind her contributions. Here are a few of my notes:

Nadine Gordimer

  • she credits her mother for being “a fearless nomad when it came to the barriers of race and religion”
  • “Until 30, I had a completely narrow, white life.”
  • “A political education took me right out of the background I came from.”
  • each has a human responsibility for what is going on the in the world
  • “In South Africa, we have not lived together freely since 1652. We have come a long way in less than a generation, which is also not an excuse for our shortcomings.”
  • on immigrating: “to leave your country is a tremendous loss” (HMMM…)

She also spoke against issues of censorship and the pending Protection of Information Bill (Secrecy Bill).

  • “Censorship goes further than the death of literature. In the end, it’s thought police.”
  • “Those who deal in corrupt practices have reason to fear the freedom of information.”

a very animated, sharp lady

Tabitha and Nadine Gordimer

To add to the excellence of the evening, Mary Burton (TRC Commissioner) stood up to dialogue with Nadine. It was so exciting and humbling to behold.

Mary Burton addressing Nadine Gordimer

These days are blessings. I’m in a constant state of reflection. There’s a deep message for me here. I know it might take time to surface, but I’m going to continue searching and meditating until it is realized.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan has arrived. Muslims are fasting (no eating or drinking) from 4am to 6pm in order to remember those who have less. While I won’t fast before or during travel, I’ve decided to start when I get home. I’ve never observed Ramadan before, but I respect the idea of thinking of our brothers and sisters who lack basic needs daily. Ramadan mubarak (Have a blessed Ramadan) to all.

much love,


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