LOS ANGELES, CA Biddy Mason, a 19th-century Black woman living in America, empowered with a Bold Focus, defied the physiological and psychological odds of enslaved oppression. Her gifts, talents, and skills undergirded with unstoppable perseverance, tenacity, and faith reigned. Her Bold Focus strengthened her, a single Mom with three young children, a herdswoman, mid-wife, nurse, herbalist, and concubine as she endured the estimated 2,000 miles wagon train walk across Mississippi’s plains to Utah and onward to California.
For such a time like this, the power of knowledge of untold history motivates and influences the possibilities of constructive actions for social justice and economic equity beyond conversations, table talk, and monetary handouts.
To this end, in honor of Biddy Mason’s legacy, Diane Mitchell Henry Network and Biddy Mason Women’s Group of Greater Los Angeles County (BMWGGLA), in collaboration with California Black Women’s Health Project (CABWHP), a non-profit organization, presented the 6th Annual Bridget Biddy Mason Unsung Shero Legacy Celebration- A CALL FOR BOLDNESS (Celebration). The theme, Biddy Mason – A Legacy of Economics and Health Empowerment Zoom Webinar, hosted by the mistress of ceremony, Millena Gay, award-winning short film producer, and actor, took place on Saturday, October 17, 2020, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. Diane Mitchell Henry, Founder, states, “The Celebration is an ongoing commitment to increase the awareness of Biddy Mason’s legacy.” “It is also an opportunity to acknowledge Black women for their outstanding service to the Los Angeles County community and encourage the general public to emulate Biddy Mason’s bold focus for economic and health empowerment and social justice.”
Despite the challenges of systemic racism, Biddy Mason’s stamina and accomplishments were incredible. She won freedom for herself and her family and became one of the wealthiest Black women in California. Biddy Mason understood the importance of economic and health empowerment. She never attended formal school to learn to read or write. However, Biddy Mason was an astute businesswoman who spoke fluent Spanish. She developed outstanding communication, teamwork, negotiation, problem-solving, leadership, and perseverance skills. Biddy was a bold focused scholar of life. She was a gifted herbalist practitioner, skillful nurse and midwife, enterprising real estate investor, and community activist who founded the first Black school in Los Angeles. The oldest Black church in Los Angeles, First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church Los Angeles, started in the home of Biddy Mason. The homeless and incarcerated population were beneficiaries of her philanthrope. Biddy Mason maintained a Bold Focus to move forward, no matter what. She was a great Shero.
Following her footsteps, the 2020 Unsung Sheroes honored were Dr. Brenda Manuel, Kelli Poole, Donna Grayson, Dr. Delores Alleyne, Capt. Chris Waters, Ozone Livingston. Margaret Prescod (Humanitarian), Dr. Gloria Morrow (Health), Susan Burton (Freedom), Bishop Gwendolyn Phillips-Coates (Faith-based), and Sandra Evers-Manley (Entrepreneur and Philanthropy) received Spirit Advocacy recognition presented by Alvetia E. Smith.
Honorary Chair, Sharon Shelton, V.P., Empowerment Services, YWCA of Greater Los Angeles, welcomed the 200 guests and participants to the 2020 Celebration. Features included a Historic Activist “Meet-up,” bringing together some of our most iconic and prolific historical activists portrayed by actors. Biddy Mason (Denise Lyles-Cook, AKA The ORACLE) “met” Bernard S. Garrett (Mel Hampton); Fannie Lou Hamer (mZuri Moyo Aimbaye) “met” Julian Bond (Malcolm Carter) and (Shirley A. Simmons) “met” James Meredith (Darryl Alan Reed). Jazz Vocalist Karen A Clark, Sara Williams, and Varetta Heidelberg provided inspirational melodies. Sign language interpreter Isis Roberts, with original poetry by early Freedom Rider, Peggy Preacely, and an inspiring message by Honorable Jan Perry. The Celebration opening started with the S.H.I.N.E (Sisters Healing Inspiring Nurturing Empowering) Muwasi Woman’s African Drum Circle, founder, Renee Fisher Muwasi.
City National Bank (BANNER), California Black Women’s Health Project, Pop Up Kitchen, Sistas’ On the Go, Multicultural Real Estate Alliance, Honey Peach Productions, Inc., and Sovereign Enterprises and Real Estate Investments, Inc. and Diane Mitchell Henry Network the 2020 Celebration sponsors much appreciation.