When (oak) is used as a flower essence, it is the great remedy when the integrity of the mind or body has been broken down by long, arduous suffering or usage...persons who struggle against adversity; never give up, but never succeed; (oak) helps a person choose the battles they can win.
Of all the adversity that Raleigh’s Black community has faced since the first Africans placed their feet over the city line, one of the fiercest battles has been against erasure -- of our physical presence, our institutions and homes, and our stories. In the interviews and conversations I have had with Black folx in Raleigh and Wake County, I have felt their real fatigue and the germ of hopelessness. Some of us are beginning to feel, as Wood describes, broken down by arduous suffering and usage at the hands of local white power structures. From the revered statesman in Oberlin Village in the 1870’s, to the working-class family making a life in Chavis Heights in the 1950’s, the municipal and state governments found a way to undermine the integrity of Black communities and systematically eat away at their legacy. Now, as families and business owners are once again fighting for their lives and livelihoods against gentrification and excessive policing, I believe we need the medicine of the mighty oak to help us discern the battles we can win.
One battle that we can and must win is celebrating ourselves and our stories. As Reverend James Cone says, “Being Black is a beautiful experience. It is the sane way of living in an insane environment.” If we are to continue to show up for ourselves and each other, we must find strength in our truth. Truth is animated by expression, and Black Oak Society exists to give Raleigh’s Black writers, artists, journalists -- and anyone with a story to tell -- the space to express their truth in a form that can be passed onto the next generation.
The artist creates the material that we look back upon as a part of history.
BLACK OAK SOCIETY HAS A THREE-PRONGED MISSION:
Give Black Raleigh her flowers now by celebrating all of North Carolina's Black history and culture.
Create opportunities that resource and amplify Black creatives in the greater Raleigh area.
Build power through the unification of our efforts to make NC see a more equitable place for all.
The Black artist is dangerous. Black art controls the "Negro's" reality, negates negative influences, and creates positive images.