BLACK EXCELLENCE: Shon Curtis on Nozipo Glenn

From an early age, Nozipo Glenn has been inspired by the resilience of her mother and grandmother. With a childhood full of lessons about strength and perseverance, growing up in Capetown and Port Elizabeth, under the strict regime of the apartheid South African government, she quickly realized that there is no use for passivity. Mama Nozipo, as we call her, concluded that “racism and colonialism are Siamese twins,” both requiring a diligent spirit of opposition. She began making her steps in the anti-apartheid work for which she would come to be known by defying the rules that governed her communities as a child.

Her internal flames of justice would escalate to a roaring fire by the time she was sixteen and joined the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania in April of 1960. With spies everywhere, the PAC of Azania would come under scrutiny and eventually dismemberment, with its members being thrown in jail, killed or exiled. The latter fate fell upon Nozipo as she was exiled in 1972. With exit papers in hand, the United Nations would bring her to New York City, and from there she would travel to Tennessee where she would continue to add to education by attending Fisk University.

Now, at 75, she holds a seat on the Dayton Africana Elders Council, exemplifies what it is to be an elder. Mama says, her job with the council is to provide a bridge between generations, similar to what she understood of her elders in South Africa. Providing the rights of passage for the community of Dayton is vital to Mama Nozipo’s lifelong work. From the co-chair position on the Africana Elders council to holding the honorary co-chair on Gem City Markets’ Capital Campaign, there have been several projects activated throughout the Greater Dayton Area that owe some form of gratitude to Nozipo Glenn.

“Nozipo” means “gifted, talented, creative, and inventive.” A fitting group of words that, combined with her fearlessness, Mama Nozipo has built a legacy of organizing, cultural pride and resistance that spans the diaspora and is carried by her and her students across multiple generations. Her work continues to inspire Daytonian every day.

Shon Curtis is a Dayton-based photographer, storyteller and educator.

Black Excellence in the Miami Valley

Jessie Gooding

To conclude Black History Month, we reached out for examples of Black excellence in the Miami Valley as told by members of our communities. Hear from contributors tell the stories of these individuals and organizations, past and present, that exemplify some of the best qualities our region has to offer.

» Marsha Bonhart on Jessie Gooding

» Felicia Chappelle on the H.U.M.A.N. Project

» Rodney Veal on Countess Winfrey

» Shon Curtis on Nozipo Glenn

» Te’Jal Cartwright on Black men healing

» Ryan C. Ivory on Commissioner Dean Lovelace

» Juanita-Michelle on Audrey Norman-Turner

» Dorian Hunter on Sheila Lash Rice

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