February 10, 2015

In This Issue...

  1. Mother Mary Carter Smith Day
  2. Thank You ASE 
  3. Festival Snapshots
  4. Meet New Board Members


Mother Mary Carter Smith (Revered Ancestor)

Mama Linda Goss (BOD)

Board of Directors

Karen Abdul-Malik, President

Saundra Gilliard, President-Elect

Sandra Williams Bush, Secretary

Gwendolyn Hilary, Treasurer

MaryAnn Harris, PhD., Past President

Jimmy Caldwell

Janice Curtis Greene

Steven Hobbs

Executive Director

Vanora Legaux

Editorial Committee

Sharon Holley, Chair

Lynnette Ford

Linda Cousins-Newton

Tonja Caldwell

Donna Washington

Dr. Joyce Duncan

Contributing Editors & Photographers

Linda Cousins-Newton

Donna Washington

Sadarri Saskill

Willa Brigham

D. Lynne Distance

Queen Nur


The National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. (NABS) promotes and perpetuates the art of Black storytelling--an art form which embodies the history, heritage, and culture of African Americans. Black storytellers educate and entertain through the Oral Tradition, which depicts and documents the African-American experience. A nationally organized body with individual, affiliate and organizational memberships, NABS preserves and passes on the folklore, legends, myths, fables and mores of Africans and their descendants and ancestors - "In the Tradition..."


We envision strenghtened communities through the telling, collecting, owning and institutionalizing of our stories.


We believe that communities are empowered through storytelling.

We believe we need to own and tell our stories by collecting, creating, publishing and archiving the oral histories of black life in America.

We believe that we must enrich our neighborhoods by developing programs and performances that share our stories, culture and history; and, address contemporary social justice issues.

We believe in institutionalizing storytelling in underserved environments by creating curriculum and guidelines that are unique to our art form. 

We believe that we must sustain the tradition of Black Storytelling by listening and blending the voices of our elders and youth.

We believe it is our responsibility to provide both traditional and innovative tools of action in order that our members may be the best stewards of the Black Storytelling Tradition.



The National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc.


February 10 as Mother Mary Carter Smith Day

in Celebration of the Birthday of
Our Beloved Founder and Revered Ancestor

Mother Mary Carter Smith

This year we celebrate with a 24-hour Social Media Blitz.  Join us in posting memories, cards, stories, audio recordings, video recordings, and lots of photos to NABS social media outlets...FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and PINTEREST using  #MotherMaryCarterSmithDay.

Also, post, and repost on your individual networks, and don't forget the good ole' standby - E-mail!

Goal:  To go viral, telling the world about the artisitic, cultural and humanitarian life of Mother Mary Carter Smith.

If you do not have twitter, but want to tweet.....
If you do not have pinterest, but want to pin photos to our board....

Please e-mail your media to our Social Media Coordinator, Denise Valentine at [email protected]

Read the full Mother Mary Carter Smith Day Proclamation

Did you submit your Story for #BlackStorytellersSpeak Project?  Be sure to be part of this historical collection!

Our target for Mother Mary Carter Smith Day is to have 10 posted by end day February 10.  

Suggested time: 5 Minute Video Stories starting with one of the following Statements:

  1. When a system is unjust, our voices must be heard.
  2. When a community is suffering, our voices must be heard.
  3. When children and families are hurting, our voices must be heard.
  4. When a process has been compromised and corrupted, our stories must be told.

Stories may be historical, personal or communal. 

Click Her for Full Details and Submission


Being a wordsmith, one would think it quite easy to explain ASs hosting of the Festival and Conference È¿ Lighting the Way. But how do you articulate quintessential excellence?   

What if we start with the Pre-Festival event.ummm, let me consult The Hiptionary by Mahmoud El-Kati -  "It was a hip scene, baby. It was poppin like a big dog. It was off the chain, off the chart, off the hook, off the wall, off the fahezee, on the real,  outta sight.  I tell you that joint was pretty high cotton! It was a hand clapping; tear-jerkin, soul stirrin, proud professin, foot stompin, blues dancin, storytellin good time."  

Emcee Gwen Hilary was all that and a bag a chips.  She jumped offed the evening with an intro to Ayodele Dance & Drum.  Andrea Fain slammed, In Awe of Black Storytellers;  FM Supreme led us to "Throw Your hands up in the air";   ReBirth Poetry Ensemble was spittin some-n fierce; Reginald Robinson commenced ta tingling those keys with some highfalutin ragtime; Serenity took us down home with a chewin-tobacco tellin; Maggie Brown did her thang and was some kinda deep; Shanta had us laid back and diggin the sounds; and Billy Branch tore it up and took it to the max!

From the pre-festival event to the community outreach, to the sweet hospitality - AS, not only raised the bar, they threw it up in the skyȿ and left it there! You know what I'm sayin'?

Queen Nur
Boss Lady




Karen Abdul-Malik, President

Nur means light, and that is just what  Queen Nur brings to the NABS community.  Grounded in the traditions of poetry and Jazz from a young age, she became a professional storyteller in 1993.  Steeped in a deep desire to share culture, tradition, community and history, she also brings a determination to grow the business and influence of NABS.  Her vision includes increasing our membership, expanding our circles of influence, creating solid, mutually beneficial community partnerships across our country, producing strong educational materials, and identifying activities that will help us fund our dreams today, and into the future. -   Donna Washington


Saundra Gilliard, President-Elect

For me, The National Association of Black Storytellers is the fertile ground that rooted, nourished, affirmed and sustains my commitment to tell our stories my way.  It is through this association that I uncovered my true voice in the storytelling arena and continually harmonize with the mixed voices that share our universal tale the black experience.  My favorite story is an Aesop fable told by Baba Jamal Koram and I tell it like this, when the lion cub asked her mother the lioness, why did all of mans stories end with the lion getting trapped or defeated, her wise mother replied, you havent heard the lion tell the story. 

Sandra Williams Bush, Secretary 
Sandra is a charter member of Tradition Keepers: Black Storytellers of Western New York. In addition to storytelling, Sandra is a djembe drummer with the group Daughters of Creative Sound, an African American women's percussion ensemble.
As member of the National Association of Black Storytellers, Sandra was a NABS Adopt-A-Teller in Minneapolis MN in 2011 and in Baltimore MD in 2012. The group she performs with, Daughters of Creative Sound, was one of the featured tellers at the 2009 NABS Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Sandra feels blessed to be a part of the NABS family which carries on the strong oral tradition of our ancestors. Her favorite story is any story she tells that makes a connection to someone in the audience there is no greater validation.


Gwendolyn Hilary, Treasurer

Gwen is a former teacher, librarian and mentor for the Chicago Public Schools. In addition to performing at hundreds of venues, she has organized major storytelling programs and conducts storytelling workshops and staff development. Featured on television stations Channel 21 and 23, she hosted several educational programs and regularly reviewed books and performed as a storyteller. Gwen is a member of ASE: Chicago Association of Black Storytellers where she has served as secretary, treasurer, president and now, financial manager. She looks forward to the opportunity to serve as treasurer for NABS. She loves NABS!!!

Hope for NABS: I hope that our organization continues to identify and utilize the tremendous talents and resources within our membership that are powerfully moving us forward.

Favorite story (book) The Ballad of Belle Dorcas  (Robert Hooks).


 Janice Curits Greene, Chair Legacy Committee

I say, Do you want a story?" You say, "Yes I do." "Well you're in luck I have a story just for you."

This is Janice Curtis Greene, with an "e" on the end and it is an honor to be elected to serve on the board of the National Association of Black Storytellers.  I say use the word serve because that is exactly what I want to do.

I am reminded of the story of Jesus washing the feet of His apostles to let them (and us) know that no one, not even God, is too important to serve.  I take my lead from Mother Mary Carter Smith, my friend and mentor who taught me how to live, love and serve, not to mention how to tell a story with heart and soul.

As the new chair of the Legacy Committee I want to revive the legacy of Mother Mary Carter Smith to insure she is never forgotten or taken for granted.  Also, I am committed to elevating the voices of our elders so the youth can hear and learn from our stories of love, hope and survival.

If you will notice I have use the word "Love" several times.  Love is the key to service.  So I would like to close with one of Mother Mary's favorite Scripture quotes taken from the Gospel of John chapter 13 verse 35; "By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one unto the other."

My favorite NABS memory is my first NABS Festival in Cleveland because my eyes were opened and I finally knew where I was meant to be, home with my NABS family.  My favorite story is Mother Mary Carter Smith's telling of her son Ricky and how she came to forgive the woman who took him away from her.  That story is the inspiration for the personal stories I tell about my sons.

Steven Hobbs, Chair Partnerships Committee

Professor Hobbs graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1975 and received the Juris Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1979.  Upon graduating from law school, Professor Hobbs practiced in the New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate in Trenton, New Jersey.  Professor Hobbs was a member of the Washington and Lee law faculty for 16 years before accepting the position of Tom Bevill Chairholder of Law at Alabama in 1997 where he teaches Professional Responsibility, Family Law, Adoption Law, Childrens Rights, and a seminar on Law and Entrepreneurship.

The Online Version of SPREAD THE WORD, is released in the Winter and Summer.  The printed editions are published in the Spring and Fall (articles, stories, features, photos - submit to Editor).

The Monthly E-News Update NABS MENU is published the first week of the month (events, opportunities, support requests, announcements - submit to Editor).

The Blog, NABSTALKING, is published by the Educational Committee (articles of academic, cultural and social justice interest - submit to Chair).

The President's MessageThe FOURTEENTHis published monthly on the 14th. 

"The Authentic Voice of Black Storytelling"

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Baltimore, MD 21213 

Mailing: P.O.Box 67722 | Baltimore, MD 21215 | 410-947-1117

Contact Editor:  [email protected]