I don't quite remember when I fell in love with tea but I do remember the most special moments of me drinking tea. I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I had just met her months earlier and it was awkward for both of us. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado. He was a professor at one of the universities and she was a housewife. After years of drug addiction and being in and out of jail, she deserved the break. I was homeless so she and her husband agreed to let me come live with them. Each evening my mother and I would find a spot in the living room with a cup of tea and a book.

Now, years later, I'm a self proclaimed tea expert. I start each day with a wonderful English Breakfast tea to get me going. As the day progresses, who knows what wonderful tea I will crown queen. But for sure, I have at least three cups of tea a day. And yes, when I can, I have tea everyday at about 3:00 P. M. I love to invite my friends over for tea and cupcakes and so far everyone thinks it’s a delightful experience. I am always in search of the best blend of tea. Yes, I’m a tea snob, I prefer loose tea but I do like some bags also. I have learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. Some bags can be quite nice. And yes again, any Diva knows, what you drink your tea out of is very important.

Tea for me is a way of life. It's wellness for the mind body and spirit. Here, I will explore every expect of tea possible, with a high concentration on wellness. I will review the best teas, the best places to have tea, the best ways to brew tea, the best tea accessories, what tea goes best with what foods, and the list goes on and on. I plan to share my passion for tea with you. And I've been told, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this tea journey with me.

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

Until recently I had never drank Peppermint Tea made with loose leaves. And Honestly, I will probably never go back. The freshness of loose Peppermint Tea cannot be denied. When I open the can of Mint Medley, From The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, I feel as if I stepped into a garden of peppermint leaves. It is a perfect blend of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves grown in the US.

Mint Medley has become a favorite and I find myself reaching for this tea tin almost everyday. It is great for on-going nausea. The health benefits and endless. It relieves muscle aches, headaches, migraines, stress. And now that it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and I have a mean cough, I'm sure it will help to relieve some of this congestion in my chest. Mint Medley has been in my tea cup more than any tea as of late. It has really helped with my winter cough, congestion related to this bout of pneumonia. You can read my full review on The Persimmon Tree Tea Company Mint Teas.

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

Welcome to my world of books! As an pre-teen books changed my world. I fell in love with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance period and the more I read the more I wanted to read. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It spoke to my own degradation and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

I love to read! Inside a book I escape into someone else's life. There is something wonderful about turning to the next page of a wonderful story. Something intoxicating about the smell of the book and the story it brings to life. Reading brings me joy, and these days with my health in the balance, I find solace in my books.

I spent hours in my bedroom sequestered with the door closed reading the classics from the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Wright and Baldwin. Books became my escape and my salvation. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

Reading is the one thing that the pain of my life could never take away from me. It was the thing that helped to make it better. And even today, living with AIDS, books continue to be the safest place for me. It’s the one thing that belongs to me that AIDS cannot take away from me.The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS.

The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS. I have read hundreds of books from many different genres and I will pick the best of my reads over the years. I warn you, it will not be exclusively white or black, male or female, fiction or non fiction, it will be all of them.

I’m so excited and I’m grateful to everyone who wants to be a part of this venture. We already have 110 Book Club Members. You can email me @ RLTReads@raelewisthornton.com. The Twitter hashtag is #RLTReads. We can make this book club as wonderful as we want to make it. Who says that Oprah has to have the only ownership to a wonderful book club?

This Month We are Reading In My Fathers House by E Lynn Harris

Read along and join our discussion July 19th at 7 pm CST

For more Tea with Rae "Vlogs" Click here to visit her youtube channel

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fannie Lou Hamer! Someone You Should Know!

Fannie Lou Hamer was a giant of a woman! She took on the state of Mississippi, the Democratic Party and even Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Leadership.

She was a purest who's commitment to social justice was unwavering and unparalleled to any one person in the Civil Rights Movement.

I had heard about Fannie Lou Hamer, I mean anyone working in any Civil Rights organization better. And of course, everyone knows her famous quote from the 1964 Democratic Convention, "I'm tired of being sick and tried." But it really wasn't until I went to seminary that I really began to explore Ms. Hamer's life.

My professor Mark Wendoft assigned a book, This Little Light of Mine, The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer by Kay Mills. When I finished reading the book, I was in awe and I needed to know more. I needed an inside scoop. So I made my way over to Mrs. Jacqueline Jackson, the wife of Rev. Jesse Jackson to talk to her about Ms. Hamer for a paper I was writing

Sitting in her dining room, which was our hangout, I  said to Ms. J, as I call her, "Tell me about Fannie Lou Hamer." The first thing to come out of her mouth was, "She was one of the most integrist person's of the Civil Right Movement." She added, "Fannie took them all to task and when she was in jail, they beat her like she was a man."

Ms. Hamer lived in Mississippi all of her life. She was born October 6, 1917.  One of twenty children, the value of her life was an extra $50.00. In those days, the planation owners gave $50 for each new child; a possible field hand for the sharecroppers family. She was a sharecroppers daughter that herself became a sharecropper with an education level that barley reached the six grade. Most black children  from sharecroppers family only went to school 6 months out of the year following the cropping season. They had a sub-standard education, where the students  in all the grades shared one teacher in one classroom.

August 31, 1962, Fannie Lou Hamer's life changed forever and that changed the course of history for the state of Mississippi.  She was 45 years old as she made her way with 17 others to register to vote for the first time in her life. The Circuit Clerk turned 15 of them away that day. Ms. Hamer and Ernest Davis stayed and took the literacy test that was required to register. They had been tutored by the members of SNCC, The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee there for Freedom Summer.

Plus, you had to interpret whatever portion of the Mississippi constitution they requested of you. That day, she was asked a question about, "de facto law." Huh? What? Right! You get it. But she didn't back down, she did what she could. Later Ms. Hamer admitted, "I didn't no nothing about no de facto law." On the way back to the rural area from the city the bus carrying the passengers was stopped for being, "to yellow."

By the time Ms. Hamer arrived to her house that night, the plantation owner had already made his way to her place. He told her point blank, "Go get your name off that book!" believing that she had actually been able to register that day. She stood tall and told him point blank, "Mr. Dee I didn't go down there to register for you. I went down to register for myself." That took a lot of balls for a black woman to stand toe to toe, eye to eye with a white man in 1962. Not only was her life in danger but her livelihood, the planation owner to sharecroppers was your bread and butter. Fannie Lou Hamer stood her ground and never turned back.

To really understand the boldness of their work, one must understand the Delta. It was a stronghold of oppression for black people. Mississippi would take the lives of  Emmett Till, Medgar Evers and James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael  Schwerner, the three SNCC workers who had come for Freedom Summer to help register voters. The stronghold was so tight, by 1965, after 2 1/2 years of work, there were still  only 155 black registered in Sunflower County out of 13, 524.

The work that Fannie Lou Hamer and SNCC did in the Delta was courageous. She became, the voice, the face and the spirit of the movement in Mississippi. Well after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, they were still fighting hard in Mississippi. Harassment never stopped. Hamer's husband driving a car carrying white students from Georgetown University there to help register  blacks, was stopped for speeding.

The Hamer's sued the city and police chief  Curtis Floyd in Hamer v. Floyd, becoming the first lawsuit under the federal Voting Rights Act brought by private parties to block a state's prosecution, claiming harassment and infringement on their right to register and vote.

A major part of the work in Mississippi was challenging business as usual. They formed the Mississippi Freedom Party in direct challenge to the standing Democratic leadership. On one level they formed the party as a way to educate and organize blacks in Mississippi, but the primary goal was to unseat the all-white Mississippi delegation to the Democratic Convention in both 1964 and 1968.

History records her as uncompromising and uncontrollable when it came to the rights of people. The 1964 convention was plagued with controversy, sell-out and compromise, depending on how you read history. In a meeting with Ms. Hamer, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Hubert Humphrey, the then vice-presidential candidate, two congressman and two other Civil Rights Activist; where they were trying to reach a compromise;

Ms. Hamer said to Humphrey, "Do you mean to tell me that your position is more important to you then the four hundred thousand black people lives?"

Indeed she was uncontrollable and unpredictable. They excluded her from every other meeting after that. The Civil Rights leadership believed getting Johnson elected was the most important goal and would in the long run help further the cause. The Mississippi delegation left Atlantic City in 64 with a bitter taste.

Jacqueline Jackson's description of Fannie Lou Hamer was on point. She was integrist and a purest to the core. Her commitment to the rights of Blacks in Mississippi was unswerving. Rulevile, Mississippi erected a statue in her honor last week. It is one of four free-standing statue's of a black woman in the United States. The others are Harriet Tuman, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tuman.

Related Blog Post: Voter Suppression Is Voter Oppression Click Here

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