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Sister Souljah
Born Lisa Williamson
1964 (1964)
Bronx, New York
Nationality American
Education Cornell University, Advanced Studies Program
Rutgers University, B.A. American History and African Studies
University of Salamanca, Study Abroad Program
Alma mater Rutgers University
Occupation Author
Activist
Recording artist
Film producer
Known for Sister Souljah moment
No Disrespect
The Coldest Winter Ever
Midnight: A Gangster Love Story
Spouse(s) Mike Rich
Children 1
Website
http://www.sistersouljah.com

Sister Souljah (born as Lisa Williamson in 1964, Bronx, New York) is an American hip hop-generation author, activist, recording artist, and film producer. She is best known for Bill Clinton's criticism of her remarks about race in the United States during the 1992 presidential campaign. Clinton's well-known repudiation of her comments led to what is now known in politics as a Sister Souljah moment.

Souljah was the executive director of Daddy's House Social Programs Inc., a not-for-profit corporation for urban youth, financed by Sean Combs and Bad Boy Entertainment.

Contents

Early life

She recounts in her autobiography that she was born into poverty and raised on welfare. At age 10 she moved with her family to the suburbs of Englewood, New Jersey, a middle-lower class suburb with a strong African-American presence, a slight change from the big city feel of the Bronx.[1] Englewood is also home to other famous Black artists such as George Benson, Eddie Murphy, and Regina Belle.[2]

Souljah disliked what American students were being taught in school systems across the country. She felt that the school systems purposely left out the African origins of civilization. Also, she criticized the absence of a comprehensive curriculum of African American history, which she felt all students, Black and White, needed to learn and understand in order to be properly educated. She felt that she was being taught very little of her history, since the junior high school and high school left out Black history, art, and culture. The Englewood school district, however, took an active role recruiting Black educators and administrators which has lasted to this day.

Souljah took a very active and special interest in learning everything she could about African history, which she felt was left out of the education curriculum in the United States purposely: "I supplemented my education in the White American school system by reading African history, which was intentionally left out of the curriculum of American students."[3] While at Dwight Morrow High School, a school that had a relatively even distribution of Black-, Latino-, and Jewish-student enrollment and a majority Black administration during the time of her studies, from 1978 to 1981. She was a legislative intern in the House of Representatives.[2] Souljah was also the recipient of several honors during her teenage years. She won the American Legion's Constitutional Oratory Contest, a scholarship to attend Cornell University's Advanced Summer Program.[2]

Throughout college she traveled, visiting Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Finland, and Russia. Her academic accomplishments were reinforced with first-hand experiences as she worked in a medical center in Mtepa Tepa, a village located in Zimbabwe, and assisted refugee children from Mozambique. She also traveled to South Africa and Zambia. She graduated from Rutgers University with a dual major in American History and African Studies. She became a well-known and outspoken voice on campus and active writer for the school newspaper. One of her noted campus initiatives was spearheading a campaign to bring Jesse Jackson to Rutgers to speak against the university's controversial investments in South Africa at the time, when divestiture from apartheid-era South Africa was a heated political issue. Sister Souljah was part of the Rutgers Coalition for Divestment, which successfully organized the Rutgers University administration to divest US$3.6 million in its financial holding companies doing business in racist, pre-Nelson Mandela South Africa. Sister Souljah and students across the state of New Jersey also organized a successful campaign to get the state of New Jersey to divest more than US$1 billion of its financial holdings in apartheid South Africa.

In 1985, during her senior year at Rutgers University, she was offered a job by Reverend Benjamin Chavis of the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice. She spent the next three years developing, organizing, and financing programs such as African Survival Camp, a 6-week summer sleep-away camp in Enfield, North Carolina. She also became the organizer of the National African Youth-Student Alliance and outspoken voice against racially motivated violence in cases such as Howard Beach, Yusuf Hawkins, and more.[4]

Sister Souljah became a controversial figure during the 1990s as a frequent guest on American television and radio talk shows. Her comments drew attention and criticism due to their inflammatory nature concerning race relations. Her position of influence among Black Americans as a hiphop artist polarized groups and individuals both Black and White and led to public controversy.

Sister Souljah is married to Mike Rich.[5] They have one child[6] named Michael Jr.[7]

Career

Music

She appeared on several tracks as a featured guest with the hip-hop group Public Enemy, and she became a full member of the group when Professor Griff left the group after making anti-Semitic remarks. In 1992, she released her only album, 360 Degrees of Power. Both of her videos, "The Final Solution: Slavery's Back in Effect" and "The Hate that Hate Produced," were banned by MTV because of their inflammatory imagery. Her album sold only 27,000 copies, and so her label, Epic/SME Records, dropped her. It is believed that the album sold poorly because of public backlash from her comments in response to the beating of Rodney King, but it also received terrible reviews in the music press.

Sister Souljah moment

Souljah became infamous for her statements about the 1992 Los Angeles riots. In an interview conducted May 13, 1992, she was quoted in the Washington Post as saying:

If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?

The quotation was later reproduced in the media, and she was widely criticized. Presidential candidate Bill Clinton publicly criticized that statement—and Jesse Jackson for allowing her to be on his Rainbow Coalition—thus the Sister Souljah moment was created.

Author

In 1995 Sister Souljah published a volume of autobiography titled No Disrespect (Times/Crown/Random House ISBN 0-812-92483-5). In 1999, she made her debut as a novelist with The Coldest Winter Ever (Simon & Schuster ISBN 0-671-02578-3). The latter was praised by The New Yorker. An indirect sequel of the novel, titled Midnight: A Gangster Love Story (Atria/Simon & Schuster ISBN 978-1-4165-4518-7), originally scheduled for October 14, 2008, was published November 4, 2008,[8] and entered The New York Times bestseller list at #7 its first week out and remained there as of February 2009.[9] Another novel, Porsche Santiaga, is due in 2010.

She also does occasional pieces for Essence Magazine and has written for The New Yorker.

Community activist

As a community activist, Souljah has organized a number of service programs. In 1985, during her senior year at Rutgers University, she developed and financed the African Youth Survival Camp for children of homeless families, a 6-week summer sleep-away camp in Enfield, North Carolina. She has been a motivating force behind a number of hip-hop artists' efforts to give back to the community, organizing major youth events, programs, and summer camps with artists such as Lauryn Hill, Doug E. Fresh, and Sean "Diddy" Combs.

Souljah was the executive director of Daddy's House Social Programs Inc., a not-for-profit corporation for urban youth, financed by Sean Combs and Bad Boy Entertainment. Daddy's House educates and prepares youth, aged 10–16, to be in control of their academic, cultural, and financial lives. The students progressing through the program earn support to travel throughout the world.[10]

Discography

Album information
360 Degrees of Power
  • Released: March 17, 1992
  • Chart positions: #72 Top R&B/Hip Hop
  • Last RIAA Certification: N/A
  • Singles: "The Hate that Hate Produced," "The Final Solution: Slavery’s Back in Effect"

References

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Sister Souljah (born as Lisa Williamson in 1964) is an African-American community organizer, author and musician.

Sourced

  • Souljah was not born to make white people feel comfortable. I am African first! I am black first! I want what's good for me and my people first.
    • "The Hate That Hate Produced" (1992)
  • If there are any good white people, I haven't met them. Where are they?
    • Remarks in her video for "The Final Solution: Slavery's Back in Effect" (1992)
  • My definition of "good" is that you understand that this is a question of power, that you be willing to give up some power, that you be willing to give up some resources, that you be willing to pay black people reparations for our years and years of service in this country, that you be willing to go home and tell your white mother and father about white racism and how it affects and kills black people in our communities. That's my definition of good white people and I haven't met any like that.
  • Yeah, it was wise. I mean, if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?… White people, this government and that mayor were well aware of the fact that black people were dying every day in Los Angeles under gang violence. So if you're a gang member and you would normally be killing somebody, why not kill a white person? Do you think that somebody thinks that white people are better, are above and beyond dying, when they would kill their own kind?
    • Comments on the wisdom of black-on-white violence during the 1992 Los Angeles riots, quoted in David Mills (16 June 1992) "In Her Own Disputed Words; Transcript of Interview That Spawned Souljah's Story" The Washington Post

External links

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