Sister Souljah

Posted on Posted in Main Blog, On The Shoulders Of Giants, Southern Griot
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On July 25th, 1963 Lisa Williamson aka Sister Souljah was born in the Bronx, New York. She grew up in poverty stricken housing projects until her family moved to Englewood, New Jersey at the age of ten. Her new home was in a wealthy black community, far different from her home in the Bronx. While attending Dwight Morrow High School she noticed that African history was purposely left out of the curriculum. She felt that it was important for black and white students to understand the contributions African people gave the world. However, she used her free time to educate herself on Africa’s people, history and contributions to the world.

As a high school student Sister Souljah had the privileged of serving as a legislative intern in the House of Representatives. She also won the American Legion’s Constitutional Oratory Contest, scholarship to attend Cornell University’s Advanced Summer Program. She attended college at Rutgers University where she traveled abroad quite frequently. She visited Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Russia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, and Mozambique.  In 1985 Sister Souljah graduated from Rutgers University with a dual major in American History and African Studies. She also gained a reputation on campus for speaking out about injustices against blacks and others. One of her efforts as a student activist was bringing Jessie Jackson to Rutgers to speak against the university’s unsettling investments in an apartheid stricken South Africa.

One of her most memorable accomplishments was successfully organizing an effort to get Rutgers University to divest more than $1 billion of its dollars into apartheid-era South Africa. After college, sister Souljah accepted a job offer by Reverend Benjamin Chavis working with the United Church of Christ Commission for Radical Justice. For the next three years she worked developing programs for a six week summer sleepaway camp. Creating these programs helped her build the skills to create, organize and finance programs for her people. Her next step was becoming the organizer of the National African Youth-Student Alliance. Sister Souljah used her organization and her voice to bring attention to the injustices and violence against blacks.

During the 1990’s Sister Souljah became a public figure because of her speaking out against racism. She frequently appeared on television and radio shows which gave her a platform to uplift and empower others. She became the face of racial controversy due to her enlightening others about racism. But the criticism did not stop Sister Souljah from leaving her mark on the African-American and Hip-Hop communities. As a Hip-Hop artist she was able to give her message to a wider range of black youth around the world. She appeared on several songs with Public Enemy, and eventually became a part of the group after Professor Griff left. In 1992, her debut Album titled 360 Degrees of Power was released but her album received little attention after her first two music videos were banned by MTV.

Sister Souljah became infamous amongst the American press because of the “Sister Souljah moment.” Her statement “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?”; made her a rogue in the eyes of her opposition. Sister Souljah along with Jessie Jackson was criticized by then President Bill Clinton about her remarks as a member of the Rainbow Coalition. She would later become an avid author of such books as No Disrespect, The Coldest Winter Ever, Midnight: A Gangster Love Story, Midnight: and the Meaning of Love, and A Deeper Love Inside:  the Porsche Santiago Story. She often writes articles for Essence Magazine and has also written for the New York Times. Sister Souljah is dynamic, brilliant, resilient and explosive when it comes to uplifting her people. She uses her time to continuously educate and empower the youth she comes in touch with. Sister Souljah, we proudly stand on your shoulders.

J.A. Ward.

Click below for the Sister Souljah video

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