Glenda R. Taylor

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Glenda R. Taylor (born December 30, 1955) is an American scholar, writer, poet, and cultural historian.

Early life[edit]

Glenda R. Taylor was born to Mary J. Taylor (1937- ) and James Spears (1931-2001) in Brooklyn, New York at Kings County Hospital. Raised by their mother, Taylor and younger sister Shay were brought up as Jehovah's Witnesses and embraced the values of Christianity at a young age. Although Taylor grew away from the tenets of the Jehovah's Witnesses, her early religious grounding continues to affect her sense of integrity and morality. She and her sister Shay, a highly successful retired fit model and fashion consultant, profoundly benefitted from their mother taking them to the library each week, teaching them the importance of reading and the need for a good education.

The elder Taylor is an African American griotte and talked often with her young daughters, telling them stories about herself, her childhood, and her family. Though captivating, the stories she shared had deeper significance than mere entertainment value. They were meant to inculcate in the girls a foundation of strength and self-assuredness. In 2006, Mary Taylor decided to share these stories with her family and friends by writing and sending an annual epistle instead of a Christmas card. These well-crafted epistles are time capsules which are set to be published in 2018 as the Book of Letters.

An oft-repeated lesson, and one that would have huge implications in Glenda Taylor's adult life, was to never use the word "can't." Mary Taylor often told her daughters, "There is nothing you can't do."[1] She wanted her daughters to understand and believe that they could achieve whatever they chose to pursue as long as they were willing to put in the required work.

Armed with the fortitude and confidence instilled by her mother and her faith, Taylor was a vociferous reader who also enjoyed writing. She wrote her first poem when she was in the second grade as a class assignment, and it was her desire to be a journalist. When she had the opportunity, she watched Barbara Walters on the Today Show, the fictional character Mary Richards on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and occasionally watched columnist Rona Barrett on the evening news. When she was 13 years old, she decided to create and publish a newsletter to entertain her younger cousins. She read all of the teen magazines and newspapers which gave her a great deal of information to report. The newsletter included photographs which she garnered from her research data. She reported the latest entertainment news, and created music charts based upon her research from Billboard, Jet, and Cashbox magazines. She rated and reported the latest songs on the radio and listened to both Pop and R&B music; however, her charts were based upon the latest R&B music releases.

Taylor loved reading all types of magazines, biographies, autobiographies, and books about American history and culture.[1] She enjoyed studying photography and watching foreign films and documentaries. In addition, she took a special interest in the metaphysical writings of Eric Butterworth and others.

Philosophy[edit]

Metaphysics, religion and yoga[edit]

Yogi Gupta (circa 1990's)

Glenda Taylor's Christian-based religious background gave her a foundation in biblical teachings. In college, she took courses in the Bible as Literature, Greek, Egyptian, Hebrew mythology, and African philosophy. She studied British and European literature and has done research on the literatures of African American, Caribbean, and Asian people. In addition, she minored in art history and is a connoisseur of African art.

Taylor credits the late Dr. Robert H. Schuller (1926-2015) as the bridge between her foundational thinking of Christianity and her metaphysical-based philosophy. Schuller wrote Christian motivational books based upon his ideology of "possibility thinking." These books include Self Love: The Dynamic Force of Success, Move Ahead With Possibility Thinking, Tough Times never Last But Tough People Do, and Reach Out For A New Life. Other early influences include Napoleon Hill (Think & Grow Rich ), W. Clement Stone (The Success System That Never Fails), Florence Scovell Shin (The Game of Life & How To Play It), Maxwell Maltz (Psycho Cybernetics), U.S. Anderson (The Greatest Power In The Universe), and James Allen (As A Man Thinketh).[2] [3]

Taylor was a student of Yogi Gupta (1913-2011) for over thirty years. Yogi Gupta, author of Yoga and Long Life and Yoga & Yogic Powers, was one of the first people to bring Hatha Yoga to the United States (1954).[3] Also known as Swami Kalishananda, Yogi Gupta was a self-realized yogi who is internationally acclaimed for his mastery of Yoga and his knowledge of Ayurvedic medicine. Yogi Gupta founded a mission in Rishikesh, India which uses natural, ancient Ayurvedic techniques to care for the sick.[4] Taylor took many courses from Yogi Gupta including Divine Science, Meditation, Psychic Development, Pranayama, Ayurvedic Medicine and advanced courses in Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga and Kundalini Yoga. Yogi Gupta made these and other esoteric courses available to his American students for over 55 years. Taylor credits this self-realized yogi with teaching her the ancient secrets of Ayurvedic medicine known only to a select few students.

Glenda Taylor considers herself a metaphysician who believes in what Yogi Gupta terms Divine Science. She holds that man was created in the image of God, and each individual has the power within to access this divinity through prayer and meditation. Taylor accepts the teachings of Jesus Christ which she says are often distorted by some Christians who do not practice what Jesus preached. When asked if she considers herself a Christian, she stated, "I believe in Jesus' teachings, and not all people who are categorized as Christians practice or act as though they believe what Jesus taught."[5] Taylor says she reads all Holy books and believes there are numerous paths to knowing and communicating with God.

Introduction to A Continent: African History & Culture[edit]

Inspired, in large part, by her mother who returned to college at age thirty-five to earn her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degrees, Taylor entered college at sixteen years old and began studying Art history and British and European literature.[6] During this period, Taylor became fascinated with the works of William Wordsworth, William Blake, John Milton, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Geoffrey Chaucer. She loves their mastery of language and their ability to use poetry to tell stories.[7] Taylor was also introduced to African American literature and often says that it is through the literature of Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, Arna Bontemps, Wallace Thurman, Ann Petry, and Langston Hughes that she first began learning the African American story.

At seventeen years old, she was the youngest student in a group of City University of New York students selected to travel to the West African countries of Ghana, Togo, Dahomey (now known as the Republic of Benin), and Nigeria. When offered this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study abroad at the University Of Ghana Institute Of African Studies in Accra, Ghana and the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, Taylor was on board without hesitation.

Cognizant that time spent becoming well-versed in Western literature and teachings left her ill-prepared in African and African-American history and culture, Taylor went to Africa not quite knowing what to expect. Taylor was amazed as she spent hours poring through dozens of books at the University] of Accra and a local book store, reading about the ancient civilizations of Ghana and other African countries. The continent's rich history, she surmised, had been almost invisible to those educated in a Western society. This discovery would prove to imfluence her philosophical approach to life and her study of history and culture.

Taylor accepted the reality that as much as she and her traveling companions wanted to embrace their African roots, they did not have the commonality they romanticized because the Africans they encountered, while warm, friendly and acknowledging a relationship with them, saw them as Americans. It was then that she began referring to herself as an American of African descent, rather than an Afro-American, the term used in the 1970s to refer to African Americans. She speaks to the multiplicity of the experience of African American descendents in her classic poem" Ingredients of An African American, A Colored, A Negro, published in her book of poems, Black America Cried. The African experience shaped Taylor's belief that critical thinking is essential to education, and the most valuable education anyone can have is reading and interpreting things for herself. In a society where many "experts" interpret events, misconceptions and misperceptions are inevitable. She came to understand one's education is extremely limited until she explores the cultures of other nations.

Career and Blind Light[edit]

1981–1993: Urban Strategies[edit]

Taylor's journey into the world of non-profit organizations, her Christian upbringing, her penchant for reading, and her African experience all laid the groundwork for what seemed to be a master plan tailored for her. Taylor fortuitously made a commitment to Urban Strategies, an organization designed to assist New York City residents who live in Ocean Hill Brownsville, Bedford Stuyvesant, and East New York. She has been heralded for being instrumental in developing Urban Strategies into a multi- service agency which provides education, employment, and social services.[5] She was a novice in her mid-twenties, but it was just a matter of time before she excelled at the art of proposal writing. Developing the proposals led to negotiating the budgets, preparing the contracts and, eventually, hiring staff.[8] Today, the organization still employs over 200 people. More important than securing the funding was her reason for doing so. Taylor realized that she wanted to alter the lives and the consciousness of the people the organization serviced. As Taylor became acquainted with the stories of the participants, she recognized that it was their desire to uplift themselves from their socio-economic circumstances. They were people who had lost their homes, children who had lost a parent, youth and adults in need of training and employment, abused children, and high school dropouts who found themselves in need of supportive services. In short, they were good, decent human beings who faced adversity and needed someone to advocate for social justice.[9] They required someone who would, as John Rawls would say, implement "principles of fairness" in their behalf.

Taylor decided that if she could secure the resources to make a difference - that was her charge. As Deputy Executive Director of Urban Strategies, (said by the Ford Foundation in 1990 to be one of the fastest growing non-profit organizations in the country),[6] Taylor's creativity and administrative acumen catapulted the organization into a multi-million dollar corporation consisting of shelters, daycare centers, educational and employment training programs, drug prevention programs, counseling and social service programs for pregnant teenagers and elders, and apartment buildings with a staff of over two-hundred and fifty people.[6] She was exceptional at everything from strategic planning, to management, to acting as comptroller responsible for overseeing government fiscal and programmatic audits.[8] Her ability to recognize human potential and provide tutelage to those under her supervision resulted in the development of numerous leaders and community organizers, affecting tens of thousands of lives in the tri-state area.[6]

The CEO of Urban Strategies, Pelham Bollers who was an enrollee in the agency's first employment training program (1981), is one of Taylor's mentees. She taught Bollers English, writing, and strategic thinking, and encouraged him to attend Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. Bollers worked as an intern for her mother at Medgar Evers College. A native of Guyana, Bollers was determined to succeed. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Medgar Evers College in 1987 and rose to become the third Executive Director and CEO of the organization nineteen years later (2000).

1992–2001: Olympic Vision[edit]

Taylor is the founder of Olympic Vision, a charitable organization which promotes the engagement of professionals and businesspeople with community youth and adults. Established in 1992, the organization has provided over 5,000 youth and adults with educational, job placement, mental health and social services.[10][11][12] The goal of Olympic Vision is to fortify institutions and assist individuals in the pursuit of worthy goals which strengthen communities and encourage young people and adults to use their creativity to cure societal ills.

Taylor is a proponent of the John Dewey (1859-1952) philosophy which emphasizes the importance of experiential education. Since her entry into the nonprofit sector, she developed many innovative, interactive educational programs which taught both youth and adults how to become gainfully employed, develop a meaningful career, and fulfill their long term goals.[13]

In 1995, Taylor developed a school which trained youth and adults. The school used numerous innovative interactive training models with enormous results. Located in Harlem, New York with a satellite location in Brooklyn, New York, The Olympic Vision School and its related offices were painted in warm, embracing colors and decorated with antiques and beautiful works of culturally diverse art. The school had a sound system which piped motivational music into the classroom. Taylor insisted that the students deserved to have an opportunity to learn in an environment which was clean, elegant, and conducive to nurturing self-esteem. Her love for antiques and art had her searching for bargain price antique furniture, instead of what she terms cheap pressed wood which "deteriorates with the first drop of water."

The Olympic vision School provided programs which included courses in television production, computer technology, business etiquette, writing, publishing, entrepreneurship, and the art of being an equestrian. Twice per week, Taylor stepped away from her responsibilities as an administrator and taught two courses. As a part of the Visions of Success Program, she introduced the students to the self-help philosophies of Les Brown, Napoleon Hill, Og Mandino, Iyanla Vanzant, and W. Clement Stone.[3] Staff members were required to attend lectures by motivational authors such as VanZant,[14] and Taylor's syllabus included the study of Black artists such as Whoopi Goldberg and Maya Angelou who faced and overcame immense obstacles. This later became an ongoing theme in her writing. She believes all students can learn from Americans who overcame the hurdles life has placed in their paths.

Taylor organized seminars, forums, and courses in which business and entertainment industry executives, bankers, educators, and writers such as Walter Mosley,[15] Elizabeth Nunez,[16] Jade Banks, and Bebe Moore Campbell[17] interacted with economically disadvantaged youth and adults.[18] Legendary broadcast journalist Kae Thompson taught Olympic Vision students how to produce television programs.[18] Olympic Vision students participated in the marketing of the National Black Writers Conference, and they assisted in the coordination of a major art exhibit by prominent artist, Izell Glover.[19] These forums opened many doors and gave the participants access to employment and educational opportunities. Students were placed on internships coordinated by her staff and Mary J. Taylor, her mother, which resulted in full time employment in the City University of New York,[20] Columbia University[20] and other institutions and businesses in the tri-state area.[20] Taylor closed the school in 2001 when she had to modify her workload. Her health prevented her from doing the extensive fundraising the school needed to remain open.

1999 - 2007: Exhibitions[edit]

Taylor, a patron of the arts, has coordinated over 200 exhibitions in Harlem, New York.[21]. She has assisted museum curators and collectors with defining their goals and refining their collections into investment grade, museum quality art and antiques.[21] In the tradition of experiential education, Taylor's exhibitions brought to life and made available fine art, antique furniture, hand blown glass, sculptures, jewelry, comedy recordings, films from the early twentieth century, pre-Civil war artifacts such as slave shackles and documents, rare and autographed books and unusual relics from every continent.[21] The exhibits were free of charge, so all could afford the experience.

The exhibits, showcased at Aunt Meriams in Harlem, New York on 125th Street in the heart of the commercial district, included A Century Of Murano Glass, American Art: 1900s - 1950s, African American Art: 1970s, African American Memorabilia: 1890-1950, American Furniture: Heywood Wakefield, Gods and Goddesses In African Art, Haile Selassie: An Ethiopian Emperor, and Ibeji Art.[21] Taylor viewed the exhibits as an opportunity to educate the public through art and culture, creating a public discourse on the lessons of history. She and the staff provided individualized tours which gave everyone the opportunity to understand and embrace an often painful past of both oppression and victory.[21]

Glenda and her mother Mary were featured in an extensive New York Times article for her exhibitions of Black memorabilia.[22] The article caught the attention of Congressman Charles B. Rangel. On July 17, 2006, Congressman Rangel spoke before Congress of Glenda's work, praising her "Lest We Forget" project and recommending funding be made available for the establishment of a museum in Harlem displaying artifacts related to African American culture.[23]

2001 - Present: Redefining the Vision[edit]

Currently, Olympic Vision assists organizations in program development and provides training and consulting services for the Board of Directors and staff of nonprofit organizations. Services include assisting individuals and cultural institutions in building collections of historical documents, artifacts, and memorabilia for exhibitions around the country. Olympic Vision also provides indirect and supportive services to community based organizations, artists, and small businesses.

Taylor works with organizations and creative artists such as Tony award winner George Faison to give young people and adults an opportunity to play a participatory role in the research, production, development, and marketing of historically significant, socially relevant 21st century technologically advanced multimedia stage productions.[24] For over three decades, Taylor has been committed to creating programs in which young artists can be mentored and engage in a socially relevant discourse with distinguished artists.[25][26][27] In 1983, Taylor created a cultural arts program coordinated by Grace Killens (wife of eminent author John Oliver Killens) in which Junior High School students were taught by prominent artists such as Tom Feelings (1933-2003), Izell Glover (1944-), Otto Neals ( 1931-), Ernie Chrichlow (1914-2005), James Denmark (1936-) and Arthur Coppedge (1938-2010). She believes in feeding the spirit with art and culture; however, she recognizes that social services and economic support are a necessary part of assisting those beset by misfortune.

Taylor has not limited her work to the New York City area. In 2005, Taylor, her mother, and sister Shay raised funds and provided thousands of dollars in supplies, household items, clothing, and other necessities to Katrina victims in Mississippi. Olympic Vision makes on-going donations to individuals and non-profit organizations. These donations are in the form of grants, meals, supplies, educational materials, books, clothing, transportation, and other basic services.

2001: Blind Light[edit]

Toward the end of 2000, Taylor experienced severe headaches and periodic moments of blurred vision. Initially she was not too concerned because she had always worn eye glasses and thought this was just another change in vision. She soon learned her optical nerves were inflamed due to a rare disorder (Papilledema-Pseudo tumor Cerebri) in which the body over-produces spinal fluid. At age forty-five, suddenly, she was legally blind. She had lost 95%of her vision. Taylor drew on her mother's lectures, "There is no such thing as can't" and moved forward as her eyesight showed little improvement. Passing on recommendations from doctors to put a shunt in her brain or drill microscopic holes into her eyes to drain excessive spinal fluid, Taylor opted for Ayurvedic treatments. These treatments are based upon the ancient Hindu system of diet, herbal medicine, yoga pranayamas (breathing exercises), and fasting. Ayurvedic medicine eliminated the over production of spinal fluid, and it is her dream that her optical nerves will become revitalized. In addition, she follows the advances in stem cell research which offer promise to those with damaged optical nerves.

Education[edit]

2008–2010: graduate studies[edit]

Taylor earned her Master of Arts degree in History and Culture from Union Institute and University. She did research on how the African American female entertainer uses autobiographies and the oral tradition to act as cultural historian/griottes/jalimusos and record American history.[28][29] She shows how their autobiographies preserve perspectives that have been discarded and/or minimalized. Entertainers such as Lena Horne, Marion Anderson, Nina Simone, Katherine Dunham, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Eartha Kitt, Cissy Houston, and Josephine Baker were a part of her research. She proves that their autobiographies record significant data on early 20th century American history. Her research, The Jalimuso's Drum was published in 2011.

Taylor obtained her undergraduate degree in English from Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. She, also, has studied at the University of Ghana Institute of African Studies in Accra, Ghana, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

2011–2017: doctoral studies[edit]

When asked how did she coped with the loss of her eyesight and how she navigates the obstacles inherent in a visual culture, Taylor often proclaims that, "blindness was not an option. Everyone has challenges, and either we let it destroy us and waver in the depths of darkness or we seek the light. I found the light." She says that attending graduate school and studying history empowered her and was one of the tools she used to move forward.

In 2011, Taylor pursued a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in American history & culture. She attended Union Institute & University which has a tradition of encouraging students to engage in socially relevant and innovative research projects. Taylor immersed herself in the intellectual community and studied under scholars such as: Diane Allerdyce, Shelley Armitage, Katherine Buntoff, Joshua Butts, Elden Golden, Toni Gregory, Norma Jenks, Tony Kashani, Linda Klonsky, Coleen O'Brien, Karsten Piep, Susan Dente Ross, Andrea Scarpino, John R. Shook, Christopher Voparil, and David Whitfield. After completing her course work and passing her Comprehensive examinations in August of 2013, Taylor expanded her initial research of how African American artists use their voices to promote social justice and began a four year investigation of the artistry and creative process of Michael Joseph Jackson.

Taylor's doctoral committee was chaired by literary critic, poet, educator, and administrator Diane Allerdyce. Dr. Allerdyce is the co-Founder of the Florida-based non-profit organization Center for Education, Training & Holistic Approaches, Inc. and the Toussaint L'Ouverture High School for Arts & Social Justice in Delray Beach, Florida. The committee members included educator and historian, Dr. Loree Miltich, and Fulbright scholar, historian and author Dr. Woden Teachout. Taylor says her research was also informed by Integral theorist, Dr. Michael Raffanti who raised the question of consciousness and Dr. Nancy Boxill whose tenacious insistence on exploring the philosophy and impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was ever-present during each residency. . . .

Doctoral research[edit]

Taylor's dissertation is titled: Tradition, Consciousness, Social Justice, and the Creative Process: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of the Artistry of Michael Joseph Jackson (1958-2009). The first extensive academic research study done on the artistry and creative process of Jackson explores if Jackson (in the African American cultural tradition) consciously used his art forms, his voice, his arena to promote social change.[30] The dissertation deconstructs his evolving consciousness, unveils his creative process, and decodes his songs and short films based upon his unique perspective.[31]

Taylor discusses how scholars began the discourse on Jackson and his impact on American popular culture over three decades ago; yet, there remains a growing, but paltry number of peer reviewed articles on Jackson, and the books written from an academic perspective are scant.[30] She reveals that the primary voices in the field of Jacksonian research are Susan Fast, Harriet Manning, Willa Stillwater, and Joseph Vogel, explaining that Fast, Stillwater, and Vogel are pioneers in the analysis of the artistry of Jackson.[30]

Taylor's research offers an antithetical approach to analyzing Jackson's artistry by delving into his religious foundation and unearthing an artistic voice rooted in a Judeo-Christian ideology.[30] It unveils a prolific creative process nurtured by his parents and refined by his quest for perfectionism.[30] It discovers an artist who believed in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Beloved Community and vigorously endeavored to use his artistry to promote individual agency and social change.[30] Finally, it concludes by proffering a distinctive interpretation of Jackson's artistic work.[30]

Over the years, Taylor has interviewed diverse artists such as Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter Cissy Houston; Tony Award winning choreographer, playwright, and dancer George Faison; award winning authors and educators Louise Meriweather, Nettie Jones, and Elizabeth Nunez; screenwriter and poet Sophia Steward; scholar, academician, and integral theorist Toni Gregory; award- winning public servant, activist, and founding Director of the Dr. Martin Luther King Studies Specialization (Ph.D.) program, Dr. Nancy Boxill; fashion designer Alvin Bell, and biblical scholar and author Firpo Carr among others. She, also, had the opportunity to speak to patriarch Joseph Jackson about the secrets of his family's success.

Glenda R. Taylor meets the Honorable Portia Simpson Miller at her graduation. Photo credit: YouSee Photography
Glenda, her mother and sister Shay Photo credit: You See Photography 10/27/18

Graduation[edit]

Taylor triumphantly defended her dissertation on June 5, 2017, and the graduation ceremony was held on October 28, 2017 at the historic Netherland Hilton in Cincinnati, Ohio.[32] At the ceremony, after Taylor was hooded by her dissertation chair, Dr. Diane Allerdyce, the President of Union Institute &University, Dr. Roger Sublet, presented her mother, Mary J. Taylor, with the University's first TLC Award, acknowledging Mary's commitment to family and how an individual can empower others through dedication and devotion.[33] Dr. Sublet spoke of how Mary J. Taylor attended every residency an all of the classes required for her daughter's doctoral studies, acting as a reader and assistant insuring that she was available to read and interpret the visuals of films, the environment, and Glenda's many field trips to conferences, museums, libraries, educational, religious, and cultural institutions.[33] Sublet, also, acknowledged Mary Taylor's active and full participation in her daughter's Creative Writing classes taught by educator and poet, Dr. Andrea Scarpino.[33] He spoke of how Mary Taylor's short stories and contextual essay led to her receiving a special Honorary Certificate in Creative Writing (2012) from the University.[33]

The keynote speaker at the graduation was the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, and alumni of Union Institute & University, ranked by Time magazine as one of the Most Influential People in the World (2012). Simpson Miller spoke about the power of one individual to create change. Taylor lauded Miller's speech and said it was a befitting message which spoke to Taylor's long journey and future aspirations.

Writing[edit]

Waves of Consciousness, her eighth book, is a manifesto which offers a method for poets and writers to explore the conscious and subconscious polyphonic voices which embrace human thought. It includes Taylor's definition of creativity and a detailed description of The Sojourner Truth Method for writers of creative non-fiction. The Sojourner Truth Method is an approach Taylor developed that allows writers to broaden their understanding of creative expression and take their artistic offerings to another level. Taylor, called "a gifted American thinker" by writer and poet Sophia Stewart, steps across the boundaries of convention, saluting and acknowledging the foundational influence of the canonized (Geoffrey Chaucer, John Milton, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce) while bowing at the feet of contemporary greats such as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Sonia Sanchez. Taylor believes that The Sojourner Truth Method is a profound strategy for adapting to and including metaphysical reality in one's writing. She says this method can alter how the next generation of writers approaches the writing process.[7]

Nettie Jones, celebrated author of Fish Tales (edited by Nobel Prize laureate Toni Morrison when Morrison was the editor of Random House) and Mischief Makers, said in a June 10, 2010 interview, "Glenda is a brilliant thinker, a witness to her times … one of too few beings who uses her voice and her talents to raise human consciousness."[34] Jones contends that, Taylor's "voice vibrates to the rhythm of the New World Aesthetic. Her inclusive voice defies the myopic vision of conventional cultural critics."[34]

Literary critic, novelist, and City University of New York Distinguished Professor, Elizabeth Nunez, who co-founded the National Black Writers Conference with writer and activist John Oliver Killens, remarks, "Given the incredible obstacles Glenda faced, she has my deepest respect and admiration for her triumph over adversity, and her outstanding contributions to the advancement of disadvantaged people in New York City."[6] Nunez continues, "…though her work has been outstanding, we have yet to see her greatest works."[6] Dr. Nunez observes that Blind Light is unique and maintains that, "The richness of Glenda's poetry lies in her ability to use the language of the sighted to describe the truths which a blind person experiences. Since she was sighted most of her life, she is able to take the reader on an extraordinary journey, leaving the reader in deep meditative thought. Blind Light is a brilliant and compelling work. It is a testimony to Glenda's talent…. Blind Light allows Glenda to join the elite ranks of writers whose contributions to literature give depth and insight to life's many travails."[6]

Cultural critic, essayist and Vice-President of Institutional Advancement at State University of New York, Old Westbury College, Wayne Edwards (who has known Taylor for over two decades and worked for Olympic Vision as an instructor in the 1990s) affirms that Glenda is an extraordinary woman whose poetry "paints pictures that she can no longer see."[6] Nettie Jones adds that Blind Light is a "magnificent journey into the recesses of the mind of a woman who awakened one morning to discover that the darkness, dimness, shadows, and sleep were not replaced by sunlight, scenes, sight. In her poetry, one might expect defeated ambitions, diminished dreams, expressions of damnation or descent into eternal melancholy. Instead, one witnesses the ascent of this woman onto soaring heights of creativity, courageous insights, and profound wisdom."[35]

Literary themes & genres[edit]

Taylor's desire to write centers upon her love for writing and history; for she believes that unearthing unknown stories and wisdom can increase creativity in a demanding global economy.

Understanding that Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone, Etta James, Lena Horne, Diana Ross, and other African American female artists who persevered and honed their crafts despite constant and overwhelming challenges to their sanity and self-esteem, she determined that their stories needed to be told and their words needed to be heard. She believes their methods of surviving, enduring and thriving throughout the psychological, mental, and excruciating emotional abuse they endured during the Jim Crow era, are inspirational stories from which all Americans can learn. It has been said of her work, The Secrets of Success (which contains the philosophy and wisdom of these artists), that "Each page is a living testament to sheer grit."[35] Taylor mines what some reviewers call," pearls and diamonds and shards of wisdom."[35] Ebony magazine agrees that her work is motivational.[36] . She uses the power of the word and art to inspire and uplift, and her books include illustrations by artist Lauchland Pelle, Izell Glover, and Raul Manzano.

As historians Gerda Lerner, Nell Irwin Painter, Darlene Clark Hine, and Joanne Braxton, Taylor asserts American history is incomplete without the stories of women, specifically those of African descent, and her goal is to continue the tradition of preserving American history and culture.[7]

Taylor's writing blends history, pop culture, African American cultural traditions, world religions, metaphysics, and references to British and European literary classics. Her poetry has an on-going philosophical discourse on God, ethics, social justice, race, politics, karma, American culture, morality, perception, and the individual's responsibility to his fellow man. The poems are rhythmical stories which use a variety of voices to raise serious questions about inner conflicts which she says "vibrate turmoil as they lie buried in the subconscious realm."

Taylor employs what she terms "the communal voice" as well as her voice and the voice of a variety of narrators. Her most recent volume of poetry Michael "Little Joe" Jackson: An American Master (2014) is notable for its seemingly authentic use of Jackson's voice as well as that of his father Joseph Jackson. This use of voice can be found in earlier works such as Blind Light and Black America Cried. Taylor gives a detailed description of this method in Waves of Consciousness: The Sojourner Truth Method & Creativity (2014).[6]

Influences[edit]

Waves of Consciousness is the first book in which Taylor discusses her influences. She tells how and why she was influenced by Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Milton, Nikki Giovanni, Virginia Woolf, and others.[7] Taylor is an avid reader of World literature and credits many writers with influencing her writing style and the writing method she developed. She regularly attends cultural and educational events in order to act as an eyewitness to the performances and lectures of extraordinary artists and historical figures whom she admires.[37]

Awards and Honors[edit]

Called a visionary by The New York Daily Challenge,[38][39] Taylor has received a Certificate for Outstanding Service to Youth from the New York State Division for Youth, and is one of the first recipients of the Network Journal's 25 Most Influential Women In Business Award.[40][41] In 2005, Taylor received the Harriett Tubman Award for her outstanding contribution to the non-profit sector. In 2017, her dissertation was nominated for the Marvin B. Sussman Award which honors doctoral dissertations judged to be outstanding in terms of originality, social meaning, quality of the research and writing, and the impact the study will have within the academic community at large.[32]

Legacy[edit]

Taylor's legacy includes her multi-million dollar contribution to the non-profit sector (for all its immeasurable results), her writing (capturing America's diverse history & culture), and the development of the first virtual Museum of African American Women's history and culture. The museum, conceived in 1999 and designed in 2009, was published online on August 28, 2016. As a part of her research for her M.A. degree in History & Culture, Taylor designed a museum which she says provides," a visual archive and exhibition of rare historical items which contribute to a greater understanding of African American history and culture." She calls the museum a "21st century monument documenting the history and culture of African American Women," and emphasizes that the mission of the museum is to utilize technology to provide access to educational exhibits and data from the African Diaspora.[42] In a recent interview, Taylor insisted that the museum is one of her greatest accomplishments.[43]

The Glenda R. Taylor Museum[41] is a partner in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture's global initiative of organizations which showcase the depth and breadth of African American history and culture across the nation and around the world. The museum collaborated with thousands of organizations in over twenty-five countries and celebrated the opening of the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture on September 24, 2016.

Bibliography[edit]

Wanna Be Startin' Somethin': Michael Jackson -A Social Activist? 2017. ISBN 978-0-9903839-0-1.

Waves of Consciousness. 2014. ISBN 978-0-9825540-5-0.

Michael "Little Joe" Jackson (1958-2009): An American Master. 2014. ISBN 978-0-9825540-3-6.

I Glenda. 2014. ISBN 978-0-9998309-1-8.

Black America Cried. 2013. ISBN 978-0982554043.

The Jalimuso's Drum: African American Female Entertainers as Cultural Historians. 2011. ISBN 978-0-9825540-2-9.

Blind Light. 2010. ISBN 978-09825540-0-5.

Blind Light. (E-Book). 2015. ISBN 978-09825540-6-7.

Truth Beyond Illusion: African American Women 1860s-1950s (with Mary J. Taylor). 2009. ISBN 978-0-615-28076-9.

The Secrets of Success: The Black Man's Perspective (with Mary J. Taylor). 1999. ISBN 09662142-1-8.

The Secrets of Success: Quotations by African-American Achievers 1998. ISBN 0-9662142-0-X.

Articles[edit]

"Exploring The Genius of Ancient Civilizations," Stand Up Ministry, December 2007

"Michael Jackson vs. The Presumption of Innocence," New York Beacon, May 2004.

"Michael Jackson's Classics Still Number One," New York Beacon. January 2004.

"Music Reviews," Wyclef Jean, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Ron Isley, Ashanti, etc. Harlem Times, December 2003.

"Fire in Their Eyes." OV News, April 1998.

"The Power of One," OV News, April 1998.

"Touch By The Spirit," Harlem Overheard, December 1997.

"Hate Kills," OV News, 1997.

"The Power of Choice," OV News, 1996.

"Blacks Power And The Fall of The Berlin Wall," Your Muhammad Speaks, 1994.

"By Any Means Necessary: A Call for Action," Your Muhammad Speaks, 1994.

"The Innocence of Michael Jackson: An Issue of Perception," Your Muhammad Speaks, 1994.

Other publications[edit]

Discography

Black America Cried. New Jersey: RFB, 2013.

The Jalimuso's Drum: African American Female Entertainers as Cultural Historians. New Jersey: RFB, 2011.

Blind Light. New Jersey: RFB, 2010.

Short Films

Merriweather, Louise. Interview by Glenda R. Taylor. "Louise Merriweather On Writing." GlendaRTaylorInstitute. Youtube, 1 Apr 2015. (Accessed: 8/5/2015)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzBSEf2BfkA

Awards/Honors[edit]

2017: Marvin B. Sussman Doctoral Award nominee. For an outstanding dissertation with originality, social meaning, writing and overall presentation.

2005: The Harriet Tubman Award. For outstanding service to the philanthropic community in the tri-state area.

1998: Net Work Journal - 25 Most Influential Women in Business Award.

1986: Certificate of Merit for excellence in program development and contract management.

1982: Certificate for Outstanding Service to Youth, New York State Division for Youth

References[edit]

1. Taylor, Glenda R. The Secrets of Success: Quotations by African-American Achievers. New York: Olympic Vision Publishers, 1997, p. 166, 168.

2. Taylor, Glenda R. & Mary J. Taylor. The Secrets of Success: The Black Man's Perspective. New York: Olympic Vision Publishers, p. xv, xvi, xviii, 12, 18, 28, 118, 128, 138, 150, 154, 192, 200, 222.

3. "Interview with Glenda R. Taylor." Olympic Vision: Visions of Success. 1998, p. 13-14.

4. Yogi Gupta - Dharma Yoga Center New York City. "Yogi Gupta." Web. https://dharmayogacenter.com/resources/yogi-gupta/. Accessed: 1/14/17.

5. "Conversations with Glenda R. Taylor." 2000, vol. 6, Issue 1, p. 6.

6. Nunez, Elizabeth. "Preface." Blind Light by Glenda R. Taylor. New York: AMH Publishers, 2010, p. xiii, xiv, xv, xvii.

7. Taylor, Glenda R. Waves of Consciousness. "Sojourner Truth Method." New York: AMH Publishers, 2014. p. 6, 23-25.

8. Taylor, Glenda R. I Glenda. New York: AMH Publishers, 2014.

9. Taylor, Glenda R. "Fire In Their Eyes." 1998, vol. 2, no.1, p. 6.

10. Richardson, Clem. "Blind Poet's Guiding Light." New York Daily News. Nov. 5, 2010.

11. Edwards, Wayne. "Glenda Taylor Shares 'The Secrets of Success." Bookworm: The New American. Jan. 20 - Jan. 26, 1998, vol. 38, no. 106, p. 7.

12. Brown, Carmen. "Taylor, An Influential Black Woman." The New York Beacon. Book Review. April 8 - April 14, 1999, P. 20.

13. "Adult/Youth Training Programs." Olympic Vision: Visions of Success, 1998, p. 13-14.

14. "Iyanla Vanzant 'Empowers' Olympic Vision Staff." New York Daily Challenge, March 24, 1998, p. 55.

15. "Olympic Vision Co-hosts Reading, Book Signing by Author Walter Mosley." New York Daily Challenge, Nov. 13, 1997.

16. Nunez, Elizabeth. "Black Writer's Conference." Olympic Vision: Visions of Success. Nov. 30, 1998, p. 15, 43.

17. "Bebe Moore Campbell Brings Book Tour to New York." New York Daily Challenge, March 4, 1998.

18. "Program Services: Visions of Success Youth Training Program." Olympic Vision: Visions of Success. 1998, p. 13-15.

19. Glover, Izell. "Program Services: Visions of Success Youth Training Program." Olympic Vision: Visions of Success. 1998, P. 15.

20. "What The Business & Education Linkages Have to Say." Olympic Vision: Visions of Success, 1998. p. 43-48.

21. "Glenda R. Taylor Interview on Swiss National Radio." New York. Interview: July 2006. Web. 3 Oct. 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_E0qYL-Ddg (Accessed: 11/18/ 13).

22. Ramirez, Anthony. "Black Collectors Hate and Buy Them." The New York Times, July 5, 2006, vol. CLV. No. 53, 631.

23. Rangel, Charles. Congressional Record – Extension of Remarks. Government Publishing Office. July 12, 2006. p. E1395.

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2006-07-12/pdf/CREC-2006-07-12-pt1-PgE1 395.pdf. (Accessed: 10/13/17)

24. Taylor, Glenda R. George Faison: Virtual Harlem. New York: AMH Publishers, 2014.

25. "Community Calendar: Employment Training Program." New York Beacon, September 10 – September 16, 1998. p. 34.

26. "Education Today: Summer Youth-employment Classes." The New York Amsterdam News, April 2-8, 1998, p. 37.

27. Edwards, Wayne. "NBWC '96: Arousing Success." Black Writers Conference – Art Exhibit. (Glover) OV News. 1996, vol. 2, no 2, p. 2, 5, 8.

28. Taylor, Glenda R. The Jalimuso's Drum: African American Female Entertainers as Cultural Historians/Griottes. New York: AMH Publishers, 2011, P. 8-19, 140.

29. Wells, Chris. "Glenda Taylor, M.A. 2010 History & Culture Concentration." http://www.myunion.edu/Academics/MastersPrograms/MasterofArts/News/MasterofArtsNews/GlendaTaylorMA2010HistoryCultureConcentration.aspx. (Accessed: 9/30/2013).

30. Jones, Nettie. "Blurb." The Jalimuso's Drum: African American Female Entertainers as Cultural Historians/Griottes, by Glenda R. Taylor. New York: AMH Publishers, 2011, Cover Second.

31. Taylor, Glenda R. Tradition, Consciousness, Social Justice and the Creative process: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of the Artistry of Michael Joseph Jackson. Dissertation Abstract. Union Institute & University,2017 , p.iv. 4-48.

32. "Union Institute & University Commencement Exercises 2017." Hall of Mirrors, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. Ohio. Oct. 28, 2017, P. 8, 16, 20.

33. Taylor, Mary J. "Transforming Lives & Communities Award." Union Institute & University Commencement Exercises 2017, 11/28/17. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NumnYKoZbPk (Accessed: 1/25/18).

34. Jones, Nettie. "Foreword." HerStory, by Glenda R. Taylor. New York: AMH Publishers, 2017, p. 14-15.

35. Taylor, Glenda R. "The Secrets of Success: A Motivational Book." Ebony Bookshelf, Ebony Magazine. March 1999, p. 33.

36. Taylor, Glenda R. "Review: The Secrets of Success." The Book Reader. Spring 1999.

37. "Dr. Glenda R. Taylor Attends Public Conversation." The New York Beacon, Feb 14, 2018. (Accessed: 2/15/18).

38. Edwards, Wayne. "Forward." Blind Light by Glenda R. Taylor. New York: AMH Publishers, 2010 p. xiii.

39. Edwards, Wayne. "Glenda Taylor Shares 'The Secrets of Success'." The Daily Challenge, January 25, 1999, p. 5.

40. "Women Going the Distance: Influential Black Women in Business." The Network Journal, vol. 5, no. 5, March 1999, p. 26-28.

41. "Glenda R. Taylor Honored: '25 Most Influential Black Women In business." CARIB Woman. April 27, 1999, p 28.

42. The Glenda R. Taylor Museum for the Preservation of African American Womens History and Culture. "Museum History and Mission." 2012, 2016. http://glendartaylormuseum.com/index-i.htm. (Accessed: 12/14/17).

43. "Black History Month Spotlight – Glenda R. Taylor, Ph.D." Union Institute and University. Cincinnati, Ohio, February 1, 2018. (Accessed: 2/ 6/18).

http://community.myunion.edu/black-history-month-spotlight-glenda-taylor-ph-d/