Frost Illustrated Staff Report
FORT WAYNE—Among those on hand to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech in Fort Wayne and to welcome his nephew, minister and educator Dr. Derek King to the city, was the Queens African-American Literature and Art Club (Queens) Inc.
Members of the group gave dramatic presentations of some of history’s great women liberators, including Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Mary McLeod Bethune. The reading was part of an event sponsored by the University of St. Francis and the Fort Wayne Urban League focusing on the role of education in initiating social change.
Founded by Regenia Frison-Jones and Arnetta Muhammad, both mothers of young girls, the group started after the two invited eight of their daughters’ contemporaries to meet weekly in their living rooms to read and discuss the American Girls Collection novel “Addy.” The book tells the story of a young African American girl determined to be free during the Civil War. According to the founders, Queens “is a female organization primarily focusing on girls, [but] we do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of age, race, gender, ethnicity, sex, religion, sexual orientation, income level, or physical and mental abilities. The Queens club recruits males for participation in Queens’ plays and we are open to collaborations with boy’s organizations regarding workshops and field trips.”
The founders explained in their program description that, “We believe children ‘…cannot begin determining their future adequately if they are ignorant of their past.’ (Henry Gates). By helping educate young ladies about their culture and the sacrifices that have been made for them, we will enable them to 1) make a positive difference in the future, 2) be motivated to give back what they have been taught, and 3) stand up and be proud of who they are, even in a culture other than their own.”
They said the goal is to “instill pride and self–confidence by helping girls understand who they are and where they come from while learning to become comfortable within their own skin,” with the specific objectives of: expanding each girl’s literary experience; increasing each girl’s knowledge of and pride in their heritage; increasing each girl’s communication and public speaking skills; increasing each girl’s self-esteem, and providing enrichment through exposure to the arts.
Queens currently has a single program for girls 12 through 18 years old, covering five areas:
• Reading—Club members read and discuss at least five quality, age-appropriate books per year that portray a wide array of African American experiences which helps them to learn their history, more about life, other people, and themselves.
• Drama—Enable the girls to interpret and reenact literature based on historical fiction and non-fictional books and materials they have read during club meetings.
• Public Speaking—Encourages girls to have a voice, expression of self effectively during public speaking engagements and other social settings, builds confidence and self-esteem.
• Rites of Passage—Provide classes on etiquette, grooming, phases of maturity, and self-esteem issues
• Leadership Skills—Provide educational workshops and weekly life lessons that enlighten, educate and empower girls on being responsible and successful in life.
For more information, contact Queens Literature and Art Club Inc. CEO Regenia Frison-Jones at (260) 804-3908.
This article originally appeared in the June 12 print edition.