A Lock of Hair and a Salute to my Visible Figure

(Photo credit: Mama Helen collage by Ann Wead Kimbrough) 

Photo by Eric Draper, Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library –https://www.flickr.com/photos/usnationalarchives/6106437263President w:George W. Bush, White House Chief of Staff w:Andy Card (left), Donald Richards (far left) and Admiral w:Richard Mies conduct a video tele-conference at w:Offutt Air Force Basein Bellevuew:Nebraska. U.S. National Archives’ Local Identifier: P7093-16

We called her Mama Helen.  We could not call her Grandma or Grandmother Helen; she was Mama Helen, a name she requested that all of her grandchildren call her during this magnificent lady’s marvelous life. Since I was #3 in order of grandchildren born to Mama Helen, I quickly got in line with the name calling requirement. Names and titles were a big deal for this grand lady who was my mother’s mother.

What’s significant about Mama Helen’s work years at U.S. Strategic Air Command (USSTRATCOM  or “SAC,” is her allegiance to our country as she worked in a top-secret capacity during the period when the U.S. Air Force’s underground command bunker was built in the 1950s and 1960s. Offutt is well-known for several top military activities designed to protect U.S. inhabitants from nuclear war and other such enemy forces. The Nebraska base where Mama Helen worked is best known in modern times for being the site where U.S. President George Bush, Jr.  was taken during the Sept. 11, 2001 attack upon the United States. The underground bunker is designed to withstand a nuclear attack.

My mother recently told me that Mama Helen would have been a factor in the #MeToo movement. It occurred to me after reading the book and viewing, “Hidden Figures,” that I had one in my own family and that visible figure was Mama Helen. Mama Helen was an employee in a military organization.  We never knew all of “top secret” projects that Mama Helen worked on during her employment between the 1940s through early 1960. We just knew that Mama Helen was held in a high esteem because of her skills, yet she endured lots of discrimination.

She dressed to the ‘nines’ and Mama Helen NEVER let us see or hear the stress from her work, her long and sometimes harrowing drives to work and other similar matter. Her official title was an administrative assistant to the scientists at Offutt Air Force Base, which Nebraskans referred to as “SAC.”  My Mom got a job at the air force base while Mom was in her teens and Mama Helen’s daughter recalls the prior-to-the-sun-rising meetings where Mom and Mama Helen ‘caught their ride’ through uneven roads that led to Offutt. The ride was equally long and challenging home in the evenings.

Mama Helen retired from Offutt Air Force Base in the 1960s and immediately began to serve young women. Mama Helen passed on to her next great adventure at the age of 90 in 2008. Since that time, each day I have either worn a piece of her jewelry and/or carry an object of her courage. She raised six children and was married twice.

Mama Helen inspired me in many ways and here are a few of the major ones:

  1. On the day she was being transported by ambulance from her condo to the hospice in Omaha, she telephoned me to boast that she was able to vote for a “black president.” She died 22 days later.
  2. She was the consummate community volunteer.
  3. She read Opera scores and was a sought-after production team member in the Omaha theatre community.
  4. She acquired quality jewelry during her world travels and those of her supervisors.
  5. She typed at the highest speed I ever witnessed on a non-electric machine. It made me wish to type to beat her record of 160 WPM – error free.
  6. She gave birth to six children and all succeeded in their respective professions.
  7. She held quality time for each of her many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
  8. She was born in April and assured me that the best people (especially me) were born that month. The first memorable gift that I recall from Mama Helen was a tabletop book about the great leaders of the world.
  9. She never learned to drive a vehicle, yet was very mobile and active. She instilled in me the spirit of adventure, reading and following one’s passion while serving the community.
  10. When she retired, Mama Helen followed one of her many callings and that was train young women in career fields.
  11. She tithed her talents, finances and love to her church and the community.

To say that I miss Mama Helen is an understatement. I keep a lock of her hair sealed in a plastic bag and include it among my special collection of her jewelry, writings and memories.

For a little more about this phenomenal woman, see http://www.chsfomaha.org/news-2/693-mary-douthy

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Show up: Follow your life’s passions

20180108_231210There are three basic rules for success offered by the artistic director of  Chicago-based The Second City Training Center, the companion amateur comedic prep center for the world’s largest improvisational and sketch comedy.

They are:

  1. Show up.
  2. Take care of one another.
  3. Do stuff.

The administrators and faculty are united around this trio of success “musts.” There is signage everywhere that invites students and visitors to report any feeling of being uncomfortable due to a staff member or classmate’s comments or actions involving the person reporting infractions. There are also other cautions such as joking and performing satire about subjects such as race or sex, yet not being a racist or sexist. There is a lot of emphasis on looking out for one another and being supportive. The most important point made in my first class by my instructor, Erin, was to come to class – whether your homework was completed or not. Sound advice.

Customer service is treated differently here: They actually practice it through the team of volunteers and paid staffers who are engaging with students throughout the building located in Chicago’s Old Town. In other words, customer service reps at The Second City Training Center do not remain in an office and only answer queries and concerns online via emails and chat rooms.

Diversity is not a ‘talk the talk’ as it is a ‘walk the walk’ where physically disabled, transgendered, racial, ethnic and other so-called differences are represented in the teaching and administrative teams. During the January orientation for the 8-week courses, Anthony LeBlanc Associate Artistic Director, summarized the school’s intent this way:

“Meeting people who are different … is a gift.”

It is a give-yourself-a-break place. The Second City Training Center is described as a second home by many of its hundreds of students. It’s the kind of home we all long for and that is one where being different is ok and laughter fills the walls.




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Happy end of 2017

       …and welcome 2018 to each of you!
Thank you for your sustained support of our mutually beneficial ideas and projects. I invite you to join me in the new year as we produce even more amazing results for our college students and the global community. For now, breathe in and relax. You deserve some time to reflect on the goodness of the universe.   Enjoy!

Ann Holiday Card2

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Never Stop Learning


I read some where to treat life as an opponent in a chess game.  You have to be calculating when life takes its turn. Pay close attention.  Think about your next play. Those who do usually win the game.  In life, always position yourself as the student. Develop often. Stay open-minded. Learn from every situation. Strategize. Position yourself to succeed.

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Black Television News Channel officials continue to build its news operations team. Earlier this month, it opened the job portal for qualified applicants to fill the position of News and Programming Director and Assistant News Director. All applications — “story and history” — to jobs@btnc.tv by Sunday, July 23, 2017. BTNC will launch the 24-hour network […]


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@famusjgc82 Summer 2017 rw2_lit class: “A” for team effort

The 23 sophomore, junior and senior students who spent six fast weeks learning about website development, blogs, podcasts, video while sharpening writing and editing skills, released their first draft of their website.

If you, as an observer and encourager, find any type of errors and/or have recommendations for the students, please inbox them on Instagram, rw2_lit.

Thanks and check it out: https://bdanterious.wixsite.com/reportingandwriting


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Lanetra Bennett – Multimedia Journalist — Morgan Elise Martin

Nowadays, being a reporter consists of more than just a pretty face and a strong voice. Lanetra Bennett, reporter at WCTV-CBS affiliate in Tallahassee, shared the lifestyle and every day routine of a multimedia journalist. On June 8, 2017 at 11:05 a.m. after the Board of Trustees meeting she informed me there are no videographers…”I […]

via Lanetra Bennett – Multimedia Journalist — Morgan Elise Martin

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