Updated: Dec 10, 2021
Women in Training, Inc. helped commemorate Rosa Parks Day and the 66th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott with the theme, Preserving Their Legacy: Activism Then and Now, on December 4, 2021, at the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University.
WIT representatives spoke about how the youth empowerment organization preserves the legacy of Mrs. Rosa Parks, Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, and their plans to continue activism into the future. The highlight of the afternoon was the WIT Rites of Passage Circle daughters’ vibrant performance of Lamban, a traditional West African celebration dance from the 13th century Old Mali Empire. Maya Bledsoe, founder of M2 Dance Studios, choreographed the cultural performance.
Drummers, Dancers and Daughters
“Drummers, dancers, and daughters!” exclaimed Stephanie A. McCorvey, WIT Vice President for Youth Development. “Months prior to the December performance, the WIT Rites of Passage daughters had an introductory session in the art and skill of drumming by Duron Hale. Little did the daughters know then that the rhythmic sounds with overlying cultural tones would propel their skills forward into a creative presentation!”
McCorvey, who moderated the WIT presentation at Rosa Parks Museum, further stated: “The daughters are living legacies. They express courage daily in their individual endeavors. Collectively, they express courage in learning, demonstrating and highlighting their Afrocentric ancestry. As the highlight of their performance was the depiction of unity and joy, the daughters also demonstrated how--through unity--Rosa Parks’ legacy lives on, much like the reverberating beats of a drum.”
You can view the dance performance here.
Voices of Young Activists
Breanna and Brooke Bennett, co-founders of Women in Training, Inc., spoke about their vision to End Poverty. PERIOD!
“There is an issue that impacts families in Alabama, and across this nation, that most people are not aware of, and that’s period poverty,” said Breanna.
“Period poverty refers to the lack of access to menstrual hygiene supplies and menstrual education,” explained Brooke.
The 14-year-old twins went on to explain that one in four American girls and young women skip school or miss work because they cannot afford sanitary pads or tampons to stay healthy and clean during their period. To alleviate period poverty, Women in Training, Inc. provides monthly donations of WITKITS – canvas bags full of feminine hygiene products – to at-risk girls, young women and nonbinary youth. WIT also provides educational information programs about menstruation for girls and publishes the brochure, The WIT Guide to the Menstrual Cycle.
Savannah Lynn Williams, a member of both the WIT Leadership Development Circle and the WIT Rites of Passage Circle, spoke on, I AM Rosa Parks. Savannah shared her activism as an author of Rainbow Tears of Joy to encourage those who are grieving; she wrote the book after the sudden loss of her “PawPaw,” Dedrick Bowden.
Savannah founded Alpha Love 2 Life, a nonprofit organization that supports grieving youth and the homeless, as well as showing appreciation for the elderly and veterans. Savannah said the care that her PawPaw showed for others, and the bravery of Rosa parks inspired her to take action within her community.
How Rites of Passage Preserves Legacy
Adeyela Albury Bennett, Women in Training, Inc. CEO, retold an African folktale about the ancient Yorùbá queen, Mọ́remí Àjàsorò of Ile-Ife, Nigeria, that teaches about the puberty rites-of-passage. You may view the storytelling here.
“Puberty is one of the five rites in the traditional African circle of life,” Bennett said. “The order of the rites are Birth, Puberty, Marriage, Eldership and Death, and each of them includes the separation from the familiar, learning a new way of living and introduction to the community. I hope the WIT Rites of Passage Circle has accomplished this for our seven daughters.”
The seven “Daughters” in the WIT Rites of Passage Circle performed “Lamban,” a traditional West African celebration dance from the 13th century Old Mali Empire. Maya Bledsoe, founder of M2 Dance Studios, choreographed the performance.
Adeyela Bennett, CEO of Women in Training, Inc. tells a folktale about Queen Moremi Ajasaro of Ile-Ife, Nigeria, and the puberty rites-of-passage.