PWP and Mount Vernon’s BUMP showcase ‘Black History in the Making’ with video series

Progressive Women of Pelham partnered with Tha BUMP to create a video showcase called “Black History in the Making.” Members of the community nominated influential leaders from Pelham and Mount Vernon who demonstrated Black Excellence, Black Leadership and Black Joy.

The idea for the Black History Month project began with Atasha Greene, who was recently elected to the executive board of PWP. “Positive Black representation is impactful to our own reflection and existence,” she said. “How we see ourselves depicted affects how we approach life, mindset and our belief of self.”

From there Liz Massie, also a member on the PWP executive board, reached out to grassroots organizers in Mount Vernon to find a non-profit women’s organization interested in working on the series together.

“I was quickly connected with Cynthia Turnquest-Jones,” Massie said. “She loved the idea and jumped on board.”

Turnquest-Jones, a founder of Tha BUMP (Brown Urban Mother Partners),  said, “PWP are champions for conversations and their goal is solutions from having these conversations. Conversations turning into solutions is epic.”

A series of traumatic events spurred Turnquest-Jones to start Tha BUMP. “2012 was a rough year with my godson being murdered on the streets of Mount Vernon and then my students being murdered by the NYPD,” Turnquest-Jones said. “I was asked to be the voice of both mothers.”

Tha BUMP provides support for women who suffer from similar tragedies as Turnquest-Jones.

The “Black History in the Making.” website showcase is broken into three categories. “Black Excellence recognizes achievements and contributions to our community,” Greene said. “Black Leadership is the stance you have taken to uplift and lead in order to advance. Black Joy in itself is a form of resistance. It makes it clear that despite our Black history, we can still be happy, in love, loving, kind and make others happy as well.”

In the videos, many community businesses are mentioned like Cupcake Cutie Boutique, Harmony Designs and The Tea Experience. One way to support the BLM movement is to buy products from the businesses highlighted in the showcase, the organizers said.

The videos impact people differently, and Massie spoke about the way she was influenced. “For me, it wasn’t any specific video. It was all of them, together, reflecting this vast tapestry of talent, skill, leadership, accomplishment and love—love of community, work and family—from our incredible neighbors who represent just a fraction of those to be celebrated.”

“The overall goal is for this to be a movement of love not a moment,” said Turnquest-Jones. “The love is changing the narrative is the vision. Bringing two places together in love.”

PWP Executive Director Paula Wood said, “My advice to young, white Pelham residents, is to always listen to people when they share their lived experience as a Black person or person of color.”

Turnquest-Jones’ counsel was simple: Listen to the song “Reach out and Touch” by Diana Ross. “I would rather anyone reading to sit and listen to the words and then emulate the actions.”

WVOX featured Turnquest-Jones, Greene and Massie discussing the project.

“Black History Month began as a way to bring black contributions front and center, so for us to do a local version of that and celebrate the people in our immediate community who continue to set a high standard is really important,” said Wood.