Juanita Westbrook

Bio:

Juanita Westbrook has a degree in early childhood education and more than forty years of experience of working with youth and families. She has been telling stories throughout the United States and internationally since 1995 and has performed as various Chautauqua characters. She created and developed a youth program entitled “Yes, You Can!”, which focuses on community youth development and empowerment skills for high- and middle-school students. She is the founder of Simuneye Productions, which promotes storytelling, motivational speaking, and historical presentations. Through her stories and Chautauqua characters, Juanita has presented to business people, youth advocates, and youth, and at venues as diverse at summit meetings, schools, judicial seminars, churches, and treatment centers.

Photo Credit:

Presentation:

Chautauqua - Alice L. R. Smith: Civil Rights Pioneer and Nevada Humanitarian

Chautauqua - Cathay Williams: Buffalo Soldier

Chautauqua - Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman: Pioneer Aviator

Chautauqua - Madame C.J. Walker: Inventor and Entrepreneur

Chautauqua - Zora Neale Hurston: Folklorist, Anthropologist and Novelist


CHAUTAUQUA - ALICE L. R. SMITH: CIVIL RIGHTS PIONEER AND NEVADA HUMANITARIAN

As one of the founders of the Reno-Sparks National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Alice Smith knew first-hand about the prejudice faced by people of color. Her personal experience with the consequences of racism in Reno motivated her to fight for change. Smith’s husband, a World War I veteran, died after being denied admittance to Veteran’s Memorial Hospital because of his race. From that day forward, Smith was a tireless advocate for equal rights. Her achievements in the early 40s and throughout the 50s and 60s as a black woman were especially important for Nevada, which was colloquially known as the “Mississippi of the West.”

Photo Credit: Scott Goodin

Appropriate Audience:  Can be tailored for all ages

Duration: C. 1 hour.

Presenter Requirements: 

  • Podium
  • Wireless microphone

If equipment indicated above is unavailable, please discuss alternatives with Presenter.

Categories: Chautauqua, African American, Women’s Interest, Nevada


CHAUTAUQUA - CATHAY WILLIAMS: BUFFALO SOLDIER

Cathay Williams was born in Missouri as a slave, and spent her early years as a house girl, a situation in which she could be seen, but never heard. During the Civil War, her life changed irrevocably the day that Union soldiers arrived and took her away with them. Living alongside them, she learned the ways of military life and became an accomplished cook. Upon being freed, she joined the United States Army and masqueraded as a man for two years, achieving the extraordinary feat of becoming the first woman to serve in the military as a Buffalo soldier. Upon discovery of her sex, she was discharged without pension. Its restoration was something she fought for the rest of her life, while also working as a laundress and a cook and, of course, remaining strong-willed and independent.

Photo Credit: Scott Goodin

Appropriate Audience:  Can be tailored for all ages

Duration: C. 1 hour.

Presenter Requirements: 

  • Podium
  • Wireless microphone

If equipment indicated above is unavailable, please discuss alternatives with Presenter.

Categories: Chautauqua, African American, Women’s Interest


CHAUTAUQUA - ELIZABETH “BESSIE” COLEMAN: PIONEER AVIATOR

Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman, popularly known as “Queen Bess”, was the first Black woman to become an airplane pilot, and the first American woman to hold an International pilot’s license. While many people know about early aviator Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman -  a black woman who got her pilot’s license even before Earhart did – is little known. Growing up in the cruel world of Jim Crow laws and discrimination, Coleman vowed to amount to something in life. She became an avid reader and a good math student. She was determined to get ahead, and show the way to others handicapped by what she believed were the evils of racism, poverty, and ignorance. Shortly after World War I, she made a decision to learn to fly. She applied to US flying schools across the country, but was quickly rejected because she was both black and a woman. Undaunted, Coleman persevered and finally achieved her goal. A daredevil of her generation, Bessie soared above barriers to dazzle audiences and become a fearless aviator of the skies.

Photo Credit: Scott Goodin

Appropriate Audience:  Can be tailored for all ages

Duration: C. 1 hour.

Presenter Requirements: 

  • Podium
  • Wireless microphone

If equipment indicated above is unavailable, please discuss alternatives with Presenter.

Categories: Chautauqua, African American, Women’s Interest


CHAUTAUQUA - MADAME C.J. WALKER: INVENTOR AND ENTREPRENEUR

Madame C.J. Walker was America’s first black millionaire businesswoman. She rose to claim this status after inventing hair care products and a cosmetics line specially designed to cater to black women and men. In 1905, Walker patented a straightening comb - dubbed the “Walker Method” – which apparently could transform afro hair into a shining, smooth mane. The popularity of her products grew so rapidly that she was able to employ 3,000 workers in her factory which occupied an entire Denver city block. And long before the advent of the “Avon Lady” and “Mary Kay representatives, Walker trained young women to sell her products door to door.

Photo Credit: Scott Goodin

Appropriate Audience:  Can be tailored for all ages

Duration: C. 1 hour.

Presenter Requirements: 

  • Podium
  • Wireless microphone

If equipment indicated above is unavailable, please discuss alternatives with Presenter.

Categories: Chautauqua, African American, Women’s Interest


CHAUTAUQUA - ZORA NEALE HURSTON: FOLKLORIST, ANTHROPOLOGIST, AND NOVELIST

A woman of enormous talent, remarkable drive, and a rare intellectual prowess, Zora Neale Hurston was an independent feminist. A writer of stories and novels, a playwright, and an anthropologist, she was a pioneer in the study of black folklore. Zora was a trendsetter and went through life as she chose, with her own unique style and manner. Living at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance, she was surrounded by other talented African-Americans of the period, such as Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes. Her book Of Mules and Men, based on her groundbreaking fieldwork in her home state of Florida, and in New Orleans, gained high recognition and remains popular today.

Photo Credit: 

Appropriate Audience:  Can be tailored for all ages

Duration: C. 1 hour.

Presenter Requirements: 

  • Podium
  • Wireless microphone
  • Chair
  • Small table

If equipment indicated above is unavailable, please discuss alternatives with Presenter.

Categories: Chautauqua, African American, Women’s Interest, Traditional Culture, literature