Sisterhood Expressions Book Club has its roots in two historical phenomena.
First, its roots go back to and beyond 1865, when our black foremothers and forefathers were legally emancipated from slavery. Prior to time black men and women would attend secret night schools or hide in secret places amid candle-glow and night fires as learned black folks would teach unlearned black folks to read. Reading provided a reprieve, even if only temporary, from their horrid existence; it provided a means of escape, so that they might move beyond, and transcend, their low condition as a slave; it provided, in short, a sanctuary for the soul and was an act of spiritual refuge.
Reading proved most essential for the black woman, whom Zora Neale Hurston called the ‘the mul’ de earth.’ Women such as Mary McLeodBethune knew the liberating importance of a Negro learning generally and of the learning of the black woman particularly. To assist with them in their education she founded a school, now known as Bethune-CookmanCollege. Ms. Bethune also knew the importance of coming together, the importance of ‘sisterhood.’ This is evidenced in that she served at one point as president of the National Association of Colored Women.
The second phenomenon is more recent: the last part of the twentieth century. Related to the new buzz around bookstores and coffee shops, in the late 1990s America rediscovered the novel and the novelist and as a result Americans-and especially women-rediscovered reading. More great African American writers emerged. Bookstores that previously stocked mainly ‘white’ novels and interest books started experiencing a demand for books written by people of color. Soon book clubs emerged as the new ‘night school’ of sorts to be places where people could gather and discuss their loves, hates, or indifferences about a new or old book.
In September 2002, two African American women by name of Felecia Hester and Wendy Squires gathered and decided to develop a book club devoted to African American women and African American authors. The book club was named Sisterhood Expressions, The group’s objective was, and remains, to read and learn from a wide assortment of books in a forum in which its members can come together and discuss their opinions about books. In this way Sisterhood Expressions seeks to encourage its members and thereby contribute to uplifting the communities it represents.
In addition to reading, we also enjoy giving back to the community, such as participating in the building of a Habitat for Humanity house in Durham, NC; sending care packages to women soldiers in Iraq and adoptinga families at Christmas.
Sisterhood Expression Book Club celebrates its 13th year in existence, we rejoice in the fact that today African American men and women read openly drawing from the great wells of knowledge, hovering with pleasure over books, and yet still as a means of entering into a new world.