by Jacqueline J. Holness | Jun 17, 2016 | Commentary |
With the release of films such as 12 Years a Slave and The Birth of a Nation and the re-make of the “Roots” mini-series in 2016, we have seen our fair share of the history of black slavery. However, the past few years may have marked the beginning of a burgeoning interest of millennials and younger in exploring slavery, the eventual emancipation of slaves and beyond.
While the official date of the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves was enacted on Jan. 1, 1863, it would take two years for slaves in Galveston, Texas to learn of their freedom on June 19, 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in the city and told them they were free. In years since, June 19 began to be celebrated across the country as Juneteenth and in 1980, the Texan legislature established Juneteenth as a state holiday. Still, the celebration of Juneteenth, which has been inconsistent throughout the course of history, has yet to achieve the recognition and popularity of other official American holidays.
Rev. Ronald V. Meyers Sr., chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, has been working since 1994 when he helped organize the foundation that is working to have Juneteenth recognized as a national American holiday. “Forty-five states recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or a special day of recognition or observance. We’re still missing North Dakota, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Montana, and Hawaii,” says Meyers.
Myers learned about Juneteenth through celebrations in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “We had one of the largest celebrations around and it was then that I began to understand the history of our freedom in America, and I took that with me wherever I went.”
By 1994, Myers, who was living in Louisiana then, met with Juneteenth enthusiasts from across the country at Christian Unity Baptist Church in New Orleans. He was selected to be the chairman of National Juneteenth Observance Foundation at the meeting. “We wanted to work together for greater recognition of Juneteenth to make it like Flag Day and have a day set aside for the celebration.”
While Myers has been successful in securing senate resolutions in 2014 and 2015, designating June 19 as Juneteenth, he had hoped to gain former President Barack Obama’s support of Juneteenth by his last year in office.
“When President Obama was a state senator in Illinois, he supported legislation to officially recognize Juneteenth in 2003. And when he was a U.S. senator, he sponsored legislation to recognize Juneteenth in the U.S. Senate in 2006. But he hasn’t issued a proclamation to make Juneteenth Independence Day a National Day of Observance as president or held a Juneteenth celebration at the White House. I don’t know why since the White House was built by slaves.”
While Obama did not issue a proclamation, he did issue a statement on June 19, 2015 supporting the observance of Juneteenth which was posted on the White House website. He also referenced the shooting at Emanuel A.M.E., which occurred a year ago on June 17. To read the statement, click here.
The home of author and illustrator Floyd Cooper’s great-grandparents who were slaves. (Photo Courtesy of Floyd Cooper)
Similarly to Meyers, Floyd Cooper, children’s book author and illustrator, remembers celebrating Juneteenth in Haskell, Oklahoma where he grew up. “I’m from a very large extended family, and all of my cousins, aunts, uncles and everyone would get together and have big cookouts for Juneteenth.”
He also remembers hearing about his family’s history from his great-grandparents who were freed slaves and lived in a home built from stone in Oklahoma. They migrated to Oklahoma after packing up in a covered wagon and leaving Texas. Before that, they moved from Georgia where they worked as slaves on a plantation owned by an Irish man. “They said he never whipped them which was important for them,” Cooper says.
His great-grandparents also kept a photograph of one of their slave ancestors from Georgia in their home. “I remember being a child looking up at that photograph. It was in one of those oval frames.”
While he hasn’t been able to link his great-grandparents directly to the slaves who heard about the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19 in Galveston, Texas, he did draw from his own family’s history to write and illustrate Juneteenth for Mazie, a children’s picture book of the history of Juneteenth which was published in 2015 .
In the book, Mazie’s father teaches young Mazie about the struggles and the triumphs of her family’s past as they prepare to celebrate Juneteenth. “Juneteenth is a great American holiday,” Cooper says.
However, some are not in favor of celebrating nor recognizing Juneteenth. Ronda Racha Penrice, author of African American History For Dummies, is one of those detractors.
“[Juneteenth] reinforces Black people as passive and as people waiting for others to free them when black people in the South would tell Union soldiers when they showed up that they were free and come and set up camp with Union soldiers,” Penrice says. “Many of them wrote letters to the White House for instructions as to what to do. This influenced the drafting of the Emancipation Proclamation.”
Penrice also doesn’t believe that June 19 is a particularly special day as slaves throughout the South became aware of their freedom on different days.
“Emancipation Day celebrations took place May 8 for some and August 8 for others.” Penrice also pointed out in her book that many of the celebrations stopped after 1920 when black people moved to larger cities and wanted to disassociate from their rural pasts.
However, while Meyers agrees that slaves learned about their freedom on various days, he still believes that freedom from slavery should be celebrated.
“My challenge to African Americans is ‘What day do you celebrate our freedom?'” he says. “On the 4th of July when Americans of African descent were still caught up in the tyranny of slavery?”
Do you and the people you know observe Juneteenth? Why or why not? Sound off below.
by Jacqueline J. Holness | Apr 15, 2016 | Feature |
Writer Jacqueline Holness dresses as her favorite First Lady, Michelle Obama.
With the upcoming New York primaries for the Democratic and Republican parties on Tuesday, the groundbreaking yet vitriolic presidential campaign continues to captivate the country. However, as the campaign showdown plays out, the presidential candidates’ spouses have become targets as well.
Last month, Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz traded insults and threw out innuendoes about their respective wives, potential First Ladies Melania Trump and Heidi Cruz, and recently, potential First Gentleman and former president Bill Clinton squared off with Black Lives Matter protestors. Bernie Sanders’ wife Jane O’Meara Sanders has managed to escape negative scrutiny for now.
However, as the country is on the cusp of choosing its candidates at the party conventions, it is appropriate to take a closer look at the attributes and accomplishments of these candidates’ spouses compared to current and former presidential spouses. Although presidents are typically seen as the primary power brokers in their marital relationships, First Ladies throughout history have also contributed significantly in public service, government, and overall American life.
Hillary Clinton is the first former First Lady to campaign for president and to have held the Secretary of State office as well as a senatorial position. According to WhiteHouse.gov, Hillary Clinton was the “first woman elected statewide in New York” to the United States Senate.
In addition to the being the first Black First Lady, the academic accomplishments of Michelle Obama also set her apart as well. Michelle Obama, who was the 1981 salutatorian for Whitney Young High School in Chicago, graduated from Princeton University in 1985, the first First Lady to have earned an undergraduate college degree from an Ivy League institution.
She then secured a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1988, making her the second First Lady to have an advanced college degree, with Hillary Clinton being the first.
While Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama are arguably the most popular First Ladies right now, other First Ladies have also distinguished themselves for their contributions to American life. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, who died on March 6, took on the cause of youth drug addiction when she created the “Just Say No” campaign in 1982 during her husband’s presidency.
According to WhiteHouse.gov, “in 1985 she held a conference at the White House for First Ladies of 17 countries to focus international attention on this problem.” According to the Reagan Foundation website, by 1988, “cocaine use by high-school seniors dropped by one-third, the lowest rate in a decade.”
Eleanor Roosevelt, who held the First Lady position the longest (as her husband and distant cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt served four terms as president), also championed political causes. She held press conferences, lectured, and had a column “My Day” in a daily syndicated newspaper, according to WhiteHouse.Gov.
She also championed civil rights for Black Americans, including publicly supporting the Tuskegee Airmen. Her friendship with Pauli Murray, a Black civil rights activist and attorney, was captured in The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanor Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice, a book written by Patricia Bell-Scott and released in February.
Finally, following her husband’s death, Roosevelt became a United Nations spokeswoman.
Mamie Eisenhower, wife of Dwight Eisenhower, sought equality for Black people, though in less public ways. Eisenhower, an honorary member of the National Council of Negro Women, invited Black children to come to the annual Easter Egg Roll, and ensured that the 4-H Club Camp for Negro Boys and Girls was included in special tours of the White House, according to biography.com.
Here is some random trivia about other First Ladies: Should Melania Trump be next First Lady, she won’t be the First Lady to have been born in another country; Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, was born in London, England. Similarly, Betty Ford, wife of Gerald Ford, worked as a fashion model, just like Melania Trump. Finally, technically not a First Lady, Harriet Lane served as a First Lady for her uncle James Buchanan, the only president who never married.
While it is impossible to predict who will be the next First Lady or even if there will be a First Gentleman this time next year, it is evident that the spouses of presidents have much to offer the country as well.
For more information about First Ladies, go to www.whitehouse.gov/1600/first-ladies.
by Jacqueline J. Holness | Dec 2, 2014 | Headline News |
With his rounded cheeks and cocoa brown skin, 11-year-old Braylon Murray could be a younger version of Michael Brown Jr., the unarmed black teenager that was shot to death by white police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. in Ferguson, Missouri.
While he is not related to the slain teenager, Murray asked his parents to bring him to “The Community Speaks,” a town hall forum that tied the killing of Brown, the grand jury’s decision to not indict Wilson, and the case at-large to the greater issue of racial profiling and discrimination targeted to communities of color. The forum, which was held at Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia on Monday night, featured United States Attorney General Eric Holder, civil rights luminaries Rev. C.T. Vivian and Rev. Bernice King and other community activists.
“I wanted to let my voice be heard,” says Murray, who was one of several young people who stood in a long line to speak at the forum. “We should protest in peace and stay calm and do what Martin Luther King Jr. did. I thought it was awful that [Brown] was shot down and that he was shot so many times.”
Attorney General Eric Holder at Ebenezer Baptist Church’s Community Speaks ATL Forum, December 1, 2014 (Photo Credit: Nicole Symmonds)
Ebenezer was the first stop for Holder who will be meeting with law enforcement, civic, and community leaders around the country. He embraced the gravity of the space he stood in by invoking the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he spoke to the standing room only sanctuary. “It was here at Ebenezer Baptist, well over half a century ago, that our nation’s greatest advocate for justice, for peace, and for righteousness began the work that would help to transform the nation – and usher in decades of extraordinary, once-unimaginable progress,” Holder said. “It was here that Dr. King set out not merely to change our laws, but to change the world – and to pull the country he loved ever closer to its founding principles.” He also thanked Dr. King for impacting his own life. “I stand here today as the result of the work he did. Who would have thought 50 years ago that a black attorney general would be serving a black president?”
However, Holder did not confine his speech to ruminations about the past, he laid out specific plans for the future. “While the grand jury proceeding in St. Louis County has concluded, I can report this evening that the Justice Department’s investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown, as well as our investigation into allegations of unconstitutional policing patterns or practices by the Ferguson Police Department, remain ongoing and active.”
Even as he pledged to see these investigations through, protesters in the audience spontaneously interrupted his speech, shouting, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom! We have nothing to lose but our chains! No justice, No peace!”
Holder did not seem bothered by the outburst, stating, “What we saw there was a genuine expression of concern and involvement.” And then for a moment he threw off his professional veneer and invoked the late Tupac Shakur saying, “I ain’t mad at cha,” to the hearty applause of the audience.
He continued his speech laying out several steps President Obama will be taking to foster better relations between local police and the communities they serve: an exhaustive review of the distribution of military hardware to state and local police, a commitment of $263 million to support a three-year initiative that will invest in body-worn cameras and expand training for law enforcement agencies and updated Justice Department guidance regarding profiling by federal law enforcement. Finally, Holder said President Obama created a new task force on 21st Century Policing, a body composed of law enforcement executives and community leaders from around the country.
While the forum was a community conversation, it also seemed to be a changing of the guards for the civil rights community who honored the groundswell of young protesters that have mobilized in the wake of the Ferguson shooting. Rev. King, Dr. King’s youngest child and CEO of the King Center said, “I’m standing here as a representative of the King legacy to say congratulations and thank you to a new generation.”
Vivian said the “pent up passion” of these protesters was reminiscent of what Vivian and his generation of protesters felt. “We don’t mind listening to you so come on up and tell us.”
Nine-year-old Ashli Clark was the youngest panelist at Community Speaks ATL (Photo Credit: Nicole Symmonds)
Various attendees were invited to share their perspectives including nine-year-old Ashli C. Clark, who spoke for children. She spoke about the contributions of Dr. King, Andrew Young, and President Obama saying, “What kind of gifts and talents will be buried if our lives our cut down too short. Next week I will be 10 years old. I don’t want to be considered a danger because I’m black. I want to grow up to be respected because I’m a child of God.”
Although not officially on the program, a Morehouse College student implored the audience to have their “undivided attention” several times before asking Holder to investigate the Atlanta Police Department as he said he was wrongfully arrested while protesting the grand jury decision in Atlanta last week. Holder responded by walking out of the sanctuary with the student.
Still there were some who were dissatisfied with the format of the forum which included nearly an hour of gospel music selections and prolonged speeches at times.
“I hoped to see more of a back and forth conversation instead of a church service so I am a little disappointed,” said Khristian Baker-Wilder, a Weslyan College student who drove up from Macon to be at the forum.
And while the audience was mostly black, there were people of other races in the audience including 24-year-old Tyler Pennington-Russell, who is white. “I don’t think [Brown] was racially profiled, but it wasn’t fair that he died for no apparent reason. I really don’t know what happened.”
Protesters outside of Ebenezer Baptist Church, December 1, 2014 (Photo Credit: Nicole Symmonds)
Even as the forum continued late into the night, an impromptu gathering of young protesters gathered outside of the sanctuary in the dark unfettered by the official program and rules of engagement mandated inside. The leader, who stood in the circle of chanters, declared with a bullhorn, “They want us to be complacent, but we won’t.”
by Jacqueline J. Holness | Jul 29, 2014 | Entertainment, Headline News |
Dear Mason Betha aka Murder Ma$e aka S.A.N.E. Minister Mason Betha aka Pastor Betha of El Elyon International Church,
I’m trying so hard not to judge you right now, but what is you doin’ man? (I’m sayin’ this Atlanta style since that is where you have lived since 1999.) I just read on TMZ that you, the pastor of El Elyon International Church, up and dipped on your congregation and returned to the “rap game full time.” Where they do that at? I knew something was up when, while flipping through television channels last week, I saw you rappin’ on some video and cheesin’ it up with your infectious smile like you did before you left Bad Boy for the ministry back in the day. And I wasn’t the only one that was confused. In a recent interview with The Breakfast Club, rapper Ja Rule—who seems to be finding his own way to faith–was asked about your return to the rap industry. According to a Madame Noire post of that interview he said, “I’m very confused by what Mase is doing. I don’t know if that’s cool or not. I wouldn’t play with the Lord like that.” Say that!
You may not care what I’m sayin’ since we’ve never met, but I want you to know I’ve been a fan of yours since “Feel So Good” was released in 1998. I still love that video! You and Puff Daddy–as he was known back then–made living in the lap of luxury look so doggone cool with your shiny silver suits, stacks of flying money and that Bad Boy braggadocio. Not to mention Kelly Price singing the hook which was obviously a sample of Kool & the Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging.” But I digress.
Let me start at the beginning of the story. My fascination with you happened because of my love for Bad Boy. Puff’s “rag to riches” story still goes down as one of the best of all time. From college dropout to creating a record label in 1994 that provided a soundtrack for the ‘90s from The Notorious B.I.G. to Mary J. Blige to Faith Evans to Atlanta’s own 112 and more. It was obvious why Puff was always saying “Take that, take that.” He was servin’ up hits like he was a chef. So when I graduated from the University of Georgia with a journalism degree in 1996, I was ready to jump in and chronicle the urban music industry explosion as an entertainment journalist. Back then, everyone from Bad Boy was always in the A. I guess that’s one reason why Puffy opened up the now defunct restaurant Justin’s back in 1998. I remember clubbin’ with Puffy, Faith, and 112 pretending that I was poppin’ bottles and tryin’ to look like a model. At the time LaFace Records, which was headquartered in Atlanta, was also blowin’ up so I didn’t even have to leave my hometown. In fact, anyone who was anyone seemed to be moving here, it was like entertainment heaven!
And then I found God.
I didn’t mean to even though my father is a pastor. Actually, He found me and my lifestyle had to change. One of the drastic changes I made was transferring my love for secular urban music to the Christian hip-hop game—which is a whole other story in itself, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit I was still checkin’ for what was going on in secular urban music.
So when I heard that you, one of the latter artists to bask in the Bad Boy light, was jumping ship for Christian ministry, I was initially skeptical and then encouraged. It was difficult for me to turn my back on secular urban music at the time, but for you it must have been a seismic shift! So when I read the Atlanta Journal Constitution article “From Hip-Hop to God” in which Sonia Murray interviewed you in 2000, I saved it. (I still have it, it’s right beside me on my desk as I write.) In the article, you explained why you left Bad Boy and the rap industry in 1999 and moved to Atlanta.
“I mean, I was corrupting young people’s minds to get that money. I was telling guys things like, ‘If you don’t have sex with at least five women a day, you’re nobody.’ Leading millions of people astray. Imagine how much more I can have doing the right thing, and serving God.”
The same day the article was released, I saw you preach the message “Hell Is Not Full” at an auditorium in East Point. As they say, seeing is believing and after I saw you, I believed your conversion was real. According to the same AJC article, you were ordained as a minister at Siloam Baptist Church in East Point in 1999 and you were starting S.A.N.E. (Saving A Nation Endangered) Ministries. But not everybody supported your decision. “Friends, family – everybody besides Puff- didn’t get behind me,” you said. And I got that because some of my friendships were irreparably damaged after I decided to stop being all up in the club and all up in church instead.
Although I didn’t follow you all around town or anything, you were on my radar because I felt we were fellow sojourners. I remember when I heard you got married in 2001, I wondered why God hadn’t brought my husband into my life yet, but that is also another story for another day. One day I saw Twyla Betha, who is now your ex-wife, at a salon getting her eyebrows done and I checked her out. She seemed nice from my brief encounter with her. After hearing that you and your wife started a new church which met in an elementary school on Peachtree Street, I decided to visit one Sunday, and everything still seemed all good with you. Nicole Symmonds, the current UrbanFaith.com editor who was then a contributing writer to the site, visited El Elyon International Church and also had a good opinion of your ministry. I think I even bought your book “Revelations: There’s a Light After the Lime” and gave it to my younger brother.
But then out of nowhere you decided to rap again and released “Welcome Back” in 2004. But you assured us all was well in a 2005 TBN interview. “Why is it Christians are more confident in the Devil taking me more than Christ keeping me. What I have inside of me is more powerful than anything the world could ever offer me,” you said according to The Christian Post. However, you also pointed out that you regret abruptly leaving hip hop for ministry. “I didn’t give myself any room to grow, I went from one extreme to another extreme. I was just so gung-ho about what I was learning, that’s all I wanted.” I was giving you the side-eye a little bit, but I was hoping for the best. And then you started hanging with the G-Unit, and I was like, ‘What the what?’ But then you seemed to retreat back to the church although I got wind of some developments that made it seem like you joined the prosperity gospel movement.
I read various TMZ articles that you and your wife were having issues. You filed for divorce then reneged on the petition and then the divorce was back on again. And even while you were separated for two years, you and your now ex-wife were selling books about marriage. But Christians and non-Christians alike “wile” out behind marriage issues so I was still hoping (although a little less enthusiastically) that you were on the narrow highway to heaven instead of the broad road that “leads to destruction.” (Matthew 7:13)
And so all of that brings to where I am today – just downright disappointed that you seem have turned your back on your church (hopefully not THE church). More than anything, though, I hope you have not turned your back on God too. But below are some scriptures that I hope are helpful for you as you seem to be at yet another crossroads in your life. Do with them what you will…Hopefully, I will see you down the road…
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Matthew 13:3-9.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come. If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:4-6
“As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” Proverbs 26:11
It’s not easy for anyone to be a Christian, and I suspect that it may be even harder for you. You were exposed to the “best” of what the world has to offer from riches to fame and on your worst days, the ministry may have seemed decidedly less shiny in comparison. I get that. But dude, keep it all in perspective. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36. I’ll be praying for you…
In Christian Love With a Church Hug,
by Jacqueline J. Holness | May 14, 2014 | Headline News |
The name Bronner is associated with success from business to ministry. For some, the name is associated with the Bronner Bros. beauty and hair care company and its extravagant annual international hair shows. For others the name is associated with UPSCALE Magazine as Bernard Bronner is the publisher of the national lifestyle magazine. And still others may know the name through the Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral, a 20,000- member church in Atlanta headed by Bishop Dale C. Bronner. However, Bishop Bronner’s twin daughters, Kirstie and Kristie Bronner, set themselves apart from the typical associations of the Bronner name, achieving an accolade in an entirely new arena.
In 2013, the twins became the first twins to be valedictorians of their graduating class of Spelman College, also the alma mater of their mother and grandmother. Now, the Bronner twins can add another accomplishment to their résumé. The 23-year-old twins are now published authors, writing “Double Vals: The Keys to Success in College and Life Beyond.” Part memoir and part self-help book, the twins give readers a rare view inside the unique world of being pastor’s kids and identical twins. From being spied on while on dates with their boyfriends at the movies to people staring at them to find their different physical features, the two have many interesting stories to share. Although they do not claim to be geniuses or have photographic memories, they do pinpoint study and time management skills and perspectives they used to achieve their 4.0 grade point average with nine to 10 classes a semester without pulling “all nighters.” Carnegie Books released the book last month in time for graduation season.
The Bronner Twins spoke with Urban Faith about “Double Vals” and their future plans.
What prompted the two of you to write this book?
Kristie: It was actually in our senior year of college. We had a teacher who gave an assignment for us to ask three of the closest people to us a few questions about, ‘What would we do if we fulfilled our full potential? What would that look like?’ So they all said many things that we had already thought about, but one thing we had not considered that each of them said is to write a book. We started really thinking about that, and we decided okay, we will write a book. We knew immediately what it would be about because of how important we felt our testimony throughout college was, all the things that God taught us to help us be as successful as we were. So three weeks after graduation, we started writing.
The two of you really stress time management. Tell me how the two of you “master the minutes.”
Kirstie: We really felt that along the way God really helped us to learn strategy of how to not waste time. College students, particularly are known for wasting time. For example, college students spend extra time throughout the week going out to lunch with their friends in the middle of the day. They don’t really think about it. They think, Well, I gotta eat, right? What we did was pack our lunch. And it would take about 30 minutes to eat our lunch like on a random bench at the fine arts building. And if we didn’t pack our lunch, we would go to the cafeteria and make sure that we limited our time to about 45 minutes. When the average student may go off campus to eat and they could spend an hour to two hours eating with friends and then talking afterward.
The two of you wrote about some of the “classroom miracles” you experienced. How did these happen?
Kristie: We teach that you work like it is all up to you and pray like it is all up to God. And that is when you can really trust that God’s grace is sufficient for you. You’re a student and you have multiple classes. There’s no way you can memorize every single word in every single book. And even if you did, there are some things that are not in a book that you will be tested on sometimes. There was one time that we mentioned in the book where we studied very hard for our first test in one of our classes. The teacher ended up putting a lot of information on the test from the first day of class when everyone thought she was just giving introductory information. It was not in the book. The questions were not multiple choice so we had to write out the definitions of things that we had not heard in a while. I know at the same moment we were both praying, ‘Lord help me.’ We both wrote the exact definitions and got 100s on that test. The Bible talks about the Holy Spirit bringing things back to your remembrance, and that is what He did for us.
When we studied abroad in Italy for a semester, that is when we feared the most about losing our GPAs [grade point average.] We put in two hours of a preparation a day for one teacher’s class, but at midterm, we still only had Bs. She told us that we should be happy to have Bs because she didn’t like to give out As. So we prayed about it, and at the end, she gave us As. God moved on her heart.
Although the two of you worked hard, you also mentioned that you also had to schedule recreation for balance. In fact, your lack of balance once got you banished to the glee club “sick corner,” a seating area for students to learn the music without infecting the other students. What happened?
Kirstie: During our first semester at Spelman, we didn’t have balance. We kept a cold because our bodies were holding on to so much stress. We were not scheduling enough rest or fun so we started scheduling going to the movies or something fun.
And the two of you faced other challenges as well including having your car stolen from your condominium during your second semester. Your mother’s prayer that “the thief’s buns be on fire until he brings the car back” ended up being a key prayer. Tell us more about this scary moment.
Kristie: Our friend’s theory was that the thief must have gotten plagued with severe diarrhea as a result of the prayer and left the car quickly to make it to the restroom. The thought was that when he left the car, even with all his belongings still in it, the police found it.
Many people expect pastor’s kids to get wild once they leave their parents’ home for college. Did the two of you have to deal with that temptation, particularly as home- schooled pastor’s kids?
Kristie: We actually had a great social life before we went college because of our church involvement, we were in the choir, we went to malls and to the movies. We were very social homeschoolers and we are not as sheltered as some people are so when we got to college, we felt quite equipped to make our own decisions, and we were confident in our identity in Christ. So when people would ask us about going to environments that we knew we didn’t belong in, we didn’t have much of a problem of saying no. And after a while, they stopped inviting us to those things. They would invite us when it was going to be something clean.
The two of you majored in music at Spelman College. Now that you are college graduates, what your plans for the future?
Kirstie: Before graduating, we were youth event coordinators and music directors in the music department at Word of Faith. We also helped to start a 150-voice youth choir. And in January, we were hired as youth pastors. We have a mentoring program for high school girls called Elite 31. We also run Thursday night service at the EpiCenter [the church’s event facility]. We asked the general manager at the EpiCenter if Thursday night could be the only night that students can use the facility for free so they can go bowling, use the arcade, play basketball, rock climbing. The only catch is that they have to come to the service and nurture their spirit after the social time.
For more information about Kirstie and Kristie Bronner, go to kirstieandkristie.com.