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Brave Sis

Journey-Journal Preview January, 2022

(c) 2021, Brave Sis Project, LLC All rights reserved

Welcome to the second edition of the Brave Sis Journey-Journal! If this is your first time experiencing it, I am so glad that you have chosen to make what we originally called “the Planner Without the Pressure” a part of your life. A lot has changed in the world since we first began this (ad)venture on that Christmas 2019 morning ( Throughout the lockdown year of 2020, somehow we launched a business and found 2000 customers in 8 countries willing to check out the Brave Sis Project. It was amazing to hear from so many of you how this litlte book influenced your life, and about how much inspiration and grounding you gained from reading the stories of brave foremothers who have come before us. I will continue to blog on the website and write on Medium about how this grows. Our presence on Instagram and Facebook (@BraveSisProject) are starting to feel like a sweet little community. Someone asked me a bunch of really good questions recently that go to the heart of this project, and, if I can say so, movement, 1) What is a Brave Sis, actually? 2) Why did you create a book that centers Black women and other women of color in history? 3) What place is there for white women in all of this? 4) Why did you make it a coloring book? 5) Is it a dayplanner or a diary? 6) If I don’t like to keep a journal, why would I want this book? A lot of these answers are peppered throughout the Brave Sis website, (, but if you are just getting familiar, or need a refresher, here’s the answer to #1... A Brave Sis is: A Black Woman using history to better know & love herself—& other Women of Color. A Woman of Color embracing story & intercultural joy. A white woman entering a circle of learning, de-centering & celebration. Women & Womxn who dare to be brave. Us changing ourselves & the world.

That kind of covers most of us! We also say this: Brave Sis Project is a lifestyle brand and social cause using wellness and history to build an inclusive sisterhood. It’s for BIPOC women wishing to better know and celebrate ourselves and each other, and for white women seeking to move beyond performative allyship. If you want to dive into all of that more deeply, check out our Medium article

bravesxsterhood. But the gist is, a lot of Black women (like me before I got tapped on the shoulder by the foremothers to do all of this) don’t know our history well (because it’s been erased and marginalized) and we don’t know that of other Women of Color either. And there are also just so many amazing queens and goddesses out there who need to be celebrated! When we lack awareness, we sometimes fill in the blanks with falsehoods or stereotypes, or worse, we miss out on a chance to build stronger bonds of friendship. I believe we all really need each other now more than ever. So I wanted to create a space where we could come together and marvel over the amazing legacies that preceed us. The answer to #3 is obvious for those of you are are white women: If you don’t want to be a “Karen,” (and apologies to all the awesome women named Karen who I know; what a drag!) Brave Sis is going to help you gain awareness of a whole bunch of women who don’t look anything like you, and likely had to

you, and who likely had to overcome obstacles that will probably leave you in awe. We are leaving it to other “DEI” spaces to beat you over head with feeling guilty. This is a place of celebration! I’ve taken to calling this a#ShameFreeResolvedFearless space of #authenticallyship and # inclusivesxsterhood (the gender-expansive X is deliberate). We all need to become amateur historians, so that we stop repeating the same mistakes. If you’ve seen the “wellness” space recently, you might conclude that taking the white default narrative out of the center—realizing it is not the only prism through which this world can be seen or experienced—is almost a radical act! It definitely can have a powerful effect on how people—you—see the world and value women in it. It has been really good seeding conversations and workshops and discussions about this topic; it feels so essential and I love bringing women (and men too) into a space to discuss how we can all better see and celebrate each other. Coloring book? Some folks find that relaxing. We went a little crazy with the backgrounds this year. If you don’t color, no one will judge you. If you do, share it with us at We love seeing what you do! Use pencils and layer them in soft, circular motions. (Brave Sis may still have some of our limited-edition colored pencil sets—check our store at They’re really cute. There’s also some cute merch so you can get your strut going. Just letting ya know!) Number 5: it’s both a day planner and a diary, and it’s also neither. This answers #6 too... It’s your daily to-do list. It’s your looking back on the weeks that have elapsed if you’re getting this book mid-year. It’s a place to do your financial planning (, one of the stories that made me happiest all of last year!) or a place to throw down the findings from your daily Tarot card pull (hello, Michele!). It might even just be something you read and don’t even write in, but just think about (you will notice all 365 days of the year have a birthday shout-out or inspiring quote, so you really don’t have to sweat it!). This book is full of color but still has a lot of spaces for you to take charge. If you’re looking at it compared to last year’s book, you’ll see we went a little lighter on the prompts. There are still a few strategically placed sentence starters, and the monthly parties (there are only one each month, but they are more substantial) often end with a quesiton to consider. But the main difference is each spread has 11 key words that we thought generally covered most of what a person might want to be thinking about on any given day: Celebrate Plan Thank Reflect Express Prioritize Imagine Release Experience Confide Honor

Make it yours. There are two days per page, in boxes you can divide any way you want. Vertical lines to separate Morning Midday Night—scribble key words and circle them, draw. Girl, I already said make it yours! Each month still has the 12-part grid of prime areas of focus. Use them as you wish. Some readers told me they used “Other” to focus on anti-racist actions. Others said they used it for their own business planning goals. It’s so exciting to me to see how folks are making this their helper. It’s an honor to have any part in helping you make your life better. Enough talk! Turn the page, be brave, happy 2022!

And thank you! xx Rozella


January 2022




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a s th i s y e a r st ar t s , I 'm th i nk i ng ab out,,,

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two resolutions I can keep . . .

Prime areas of focus this month... body /health

work /school



other folks

the world


creativit y





Ways to get there...

Goal Steps to take

Due Date


Goal Steps to take

Due Date


blues in the night Let’s start the year out with a salute to four incredible musical talents whose stars shone bright during a time of national tumult.

Top Row: Let’s meet Bessie Smith, born on April 15, 1894. At a young age, she lost both parents and had to literally sing for her supper, busking on the street corners of Chattanooga, Tennessee with her brother. From these humble beginnings, she would go on to become “The Empress of the Blues,” reigning supreme during the 1920s and 1930s, dark years of lynchings and Jim Crow. Her first gigs were with another woman on the bill tonight, Ma Rainey—who probably helped Smith mold her onstage presence. By 1913, she was a popular solo act in Atlanta and began recording her own blues records in 1923. She had a booming contralto voice and an earthy, gritty delivery that soon made her the highest-paid African American entertainer of her time, adored for the frank way her songs related stories of female liberty: financial, moral, and even sexual. Over the 160 recordings she released for Columbia Records ‘race records’ division, Smith worked with the greats of the era,

from Louis Armstrong to Coleman Hawkins. Even once the Depression and the talkies killed vaudeville, Smith carried on, appearing on Broadway in 1929 and the same year, in the film “St. Louis Blues,” where she sang the title song. By the time of her last recording in 1933, she was adapting to the swing era in her vocal styling and delivery. We can only imagine how her career would have evolved had she not been involved in an automobile accident in September, 1937 that claimed her life. 10,000 mourners paid respects to Bessie Smith at her Philadelphia homegoing. For our time-traveling concert today, she started out pretending to sing the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra fave, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” but in true Bessie Smith independent style, changed midway through the first bar into her big hit “Gimmie a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer).” Born in Texas on May 30, 1927, Clora Larea Bryant began playing the trumpet at a young age, and would go on to be one of the most prominent jazz musicians in L.A. and indeed, the entire west Coast. Only because she was a woman is she not a household name like some of her collaborators such as Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. She was the only woman musician (not singer) to ever perform with these two legends, and she also backed Louis Armstrong and many others during her storied career. By 1946, just a few years out of U.C.L.A. (her family had been chased out their Texas hometown because white neighbors unfairly accused her father of theft), she joined The International Sweethearts of Rhythm—the nation’s first integrated all-women’s band, specialists in swing and jazz who enjoyed enormous success. Dizzy was her mentor, and this multi-talented young musician (she called herself a trumpetiste) also became a drummer for the all-Black jazz band the Queens of Swing, a combo later known to TV audiences as the “Hollywood Sepia Tones.” They made history as the first women’s jazz group to appear on the small screen. That same year,1951, Bryant played trumpet in Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday’s bands. Admired as she was, she only made one studio recording, 1957’s Gal with a Horn. Bryant made even more history later in her life, hosting an Australian TV show with her brother in the 1970s, fronting her own band, Swi-Bop, in the 1970s and ’80s, and becoming the first female jazz musician to tour the Soviet Union in 1989. In 1996, a heart attack and quadruple bypass surgery silenced her trumpet playing, but she continued to sing, lecture, and rack up the acclaim until her passing in 2019. Bottom Row: Gertrude Pridgett, (born on April 26, 1886) went by the stage name Ma Rainey. She was known as the “Mother of the Blues.” She started out her career as a young adolescent in minstrel shows, married “Pa” Rainey in 1904, and they started a group called Rainey and Rainey, Assassinators of the Blues. Rainey said she invented the term “blues” to describe the sadness in the songs and stories. It was another Black blues singer, Mamie Smith, who first recorded a song, but Rainey soon became prolific, with songs such as “Bo-Weevil Blues” and, “Moonshine Blues” in 1923, “See See Rider Blues” (a big 1924 hit), and 1927’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (1927). Singing of the authentic Southern Black experience wtih a deep and gravelly voice, she was likened to her protogée and frenemy Bessie Smith. They both recorded with Thomas Dorsey and Louis Armstrong, and they were both quite libertine. She was blinged out for her time: gold teeth, tiaras, feathers, lavish necklaces and a somewhat manly bravado. She enjoyed wild parties and passionate relationships with women. Sadly, she was tormented

by the law for her lifestyle, and the many recordings she made were with an inferior label with mediocre sound quality. As vaudeville’s popularity faded, The “Mother of the Blues” was somewhat forgotten, until a revival in the 1960s. Rainey died in December 1939 of a heart attack. The celebrated American playwright August Wilson wrote “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” about a tempestuous 1927 recording session; it was adapted for Netflix in 2020 starring Viola Davis in the lead role and Chadwick Boseman as a musical collaborator, in what would be his final film appearance, . If the name Eleanora Fagan does not ring a bell, perhaps you are more familiar with her stage name, Billie Holiday. She was born on April 7, 1915 and made one of the most indelible marks on jazz as anyone—despite a famously small voice with limited range. Self-taught but possessing extraordinary gifts of styling and improvisation, she possessed an instantly recognizable voice, iconic and timeless. Rising from a terrible childhood of parental absence, truancy, and sexual assault, she found work in a brothel—first as a domestic and later working alongside her mother as a trafficked child. Somehow at this time, she began singing in Harlem nightclubs, making her recording debut in 1933 at age 18 with Benny Goodman. “Your Mother’s Son-In-Law” and “Riffin’ the Scotch” established her brilliant, yet tragedy-ensnared career. Holiday was mesmerizing, onstage with her signature magnolia behind her era, offstage willing to fight like a man if she were wronged. At the height of her artistic powers in 1947, she was arrested on a narcotics charge, and her life’s trajectory would sadly descend into legal, financial, health and emotional calamity, including the confiscation of her cabaret card in 1947. This restriction curtailed her ability to perform in cabarets, clubs, or anywhere that sold alcohol. She continued to record albums and play theatrical venues, and a budding 1950s feminist lawyer named Floyrence Kennedy would successfully sue for Holiday’s retention of her royalty rights. But by this decade, Billie’s voice and life were in freefall—a decline poignantly portrayed by Diana Ross in the 1972 film Lady Sings the Blues. Billie Holiday, who passed away of liver disease in 1959, was posthumously nominated for 23 Grammy awards. A 2021 biopic was released with singer Andra Day in the lead role: The United States vs. Billie Holiday. While full of whimsy, naughtiness, and cries of independence, many songs in the repertoire of these Brave Sisses also shared frank and searing ripostes about this era of lynching, Jim Crow, chain gangs, capital punishment, and other racial atrocities. Bessie Smith was known for songs such as “Jail House Blues,” “Prison Blues” and “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair,” and Billie Holiday’s signature song was “Strange Fruit, a harrowing testimony about lynching. What other singers inspire you because of their ability to tell it like it is?

happy new year!

No river can return to its source, yet all rivers must have a beginning.

–Native American Proverb

Celebrate Plan Thank Reflect Express Prioritize Imagine Release Experience Confide Honor

I’m feeling energized about . . .



Women are the backbone of family and community so I believe they should be the backbone of national leadership. ­—Former President of the Marshall Islands, Hilda Heine


The first Chinese American movie star, Anna May Wong (born today in 1905) protested Hollywood typecasting, and built a huge career in Europe. After her eventual return stateside, she made history when her 1951 show, The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, became the first U.S. TV show with an Asian American woman lead.

Selena Sloan Butler (born this day in 1872) founded the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers Association (which became the National PTA) and was appointed to the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection in 1929. During World War II, Butler organized the Red Cross’ first Black women’s chapter of “Gray Ladies.”


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Soprano Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones, known as Sissieretta Jones, (born this day in 1868 or 1869) was renowned for opera, light opera, and popular music alike. Her New York debut was in 1888 at Steinway Hall in New York. She would sing for four consecutive presidents and the British Royals over her storied international career.




Make every person, place or condition better than you left it always. E hele me ka pu’olo

—Hawaiian saying

Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread—without it, it’s flat. ―Jazz legend Carmen McRae

Educator, missionary, and a lifelong advocate for female higher education, Fanny Jackson Coppin (1837). Purchased by a Freewoman aunt, she worked as a servant, hired a tutor, and earned a scholarship to Ohio’s Oberlin College, where she taught a free literacy course for Black people and would later found a mission in South Africa with her husband.

Celebrate Plan Thank Reflect Express Prioritize Imagine Release Experience Confide Honor

I feel concerned but resolved about . . .




Seamstress to suffragist to civic leader, Felisa Rincón de Gautier (born on this day in 1897) became the first female mayor of a capital city in the Americas in 1946, as mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Doña Fela would turn the city into a major Latin American urban center, establishing the model for Head Start and the San Juan School of Medicine.

Celebrate Sacagawea, born sometime in 1788. A Lemhi Shoshone woman, she was 16 when she helped the Lewis and Clark Expedition explore the Louisiana Territory from North Dakota to the Pacific. A stalwart guide, she helped uplift the culture of Native American populations, even as the expeditioners were on their quest to conquer the lands.

Don’t expect a pat on the back for merely doing your job, but know that you’ll get one for doing it exceptionally well. ­—Broadway legend Lea Salonga

— Lisa See, author of On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family.


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Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.




Happy Birthday Charlotte E. Ray (born this day in 1850), the first Black American female lawyer in the United States. Unfortunately, racism and sexism limited her business prospects and she only was able to practice law for a few years, eventually moving to New York, where she became a teacher and a suffragist.

Language is magical—it’s a form of conjuring. If you do it convincingly, readers will follow you. -- Novelist Ruth Ozeki

Susan Ahn Cuddy’s parents, the first Korean couple to emigrate to the U.S., fleeing Japanese colonization, would turn their Los Angeles home into a resource center for new Korean immigrants. Daughter Susan Ahn was born this day in 1915. She would become the first Asian American woman in the U.S. Navy and the first female gunnery officer, period.

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something beautiful I noticed recently . . .




Mary Evans Wilson was born sometime in 1866. A major civil rights activist, she co-founded the Boston chapter of the NAACP and wrote a health and beauty column for pioneering Black women’s newspaper The Woman’s Era. She also fought discrimination and created a knitting club that morphed into the Women’s Service Club in 1919, one of Boston’s oldest civic organizations for Black people.

Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude. ­—Former First Lady Michelle Obama, born this day in 1964

Don’t settle for average. Bring your best to the moment. Then, whether it fails or succeeds, at least you know you gave all you had. We need to live the best that’s in us. —Hollywood royalty, Angela Bassett

—Supermodel, actress, and humanitarian Lupita Nyong’o


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You can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and those around you. That kind of beauty inflames the heart and enchants the soul.




Eva Jessye was born this day in 1895. During the Harlem Renaissance, a time when women were under-represented in music, she was one of the first Black women to conduct her own choir. She also collaborated with giants of the classical field incuding Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein—and George Gershwin, on a little opera you may have heard of, Porgy and Bess. She also composed many choral works of her own.

Happy birthday, Raye Montague (born today in 1935). She not only became internationally registered as a professional engineer, but also the first female ship program manager of any ethnicity, rising to the rank of Captain. She also created the first computer-generated rough draft of a U.S. naval ship. She was a “Hidden Figure,” without a doubt!

Willa Brown (born this day in 1906) was the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license in America, the first Black woman to run for U.S. Congress (1946), and the first American woman to obtain a mechanic’s license, period. She helped integrate the U.S. Army Air Corps and co-created the first Black-owned private flight training academy in the U.S.

Celebrate Plan Thank Reflect Express Prioritize Imagine Release Experience Confide Honor

I gotta keep on keepin'’ on about . . .




Happy Birthday (1837) to Amanda Berry Smith. Born into slavery, she became known as “God’s image carved in ebony” for her good works, including funding The Amanda Smith Orphanage and Industrial Home for Abandoned and Destitute Colored Children in Illinois.

Happy Birthday to America’s first major prima ballerina, Maria Tallchief (Osage name: Ki He KahStah Tsa, born this day in 1925). She was the first star in George Balanchine’s new New York City Ballet, dancing roles that would become iconic such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. She would be the first American to perform at Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet.

Each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women. —Poet, activist, memoirist, and American Renaissance Woman, Maya Angelou


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Bessie Coleman (born today in 1892) overcame three obstacles standing between her and Wed/26 flight school: she was a woman, of Native American descent, and Black. She became the first Black woman and first Native American to hold a pilot’s license, and first Black person to obtain an international pilot’s license. “Brave Bessie” earned her living engaging in thrilling but dangerous flight shows.


You know, you do need mentors, but in the end, you really just need to believe in yourself. —Singer, actress and girl group icon Diana Ross


Today we commemorate Elleanor Eldridge, born around 1784-1785. An African American and Native American entrepreneur and memoirist, she penned her Memoirs of Elleanor Eldridge, depicting her life in Rhode Island. Business-minded, she wrote the 128page book in order to repurchase property that had been swindled from her.

Beulah Mae Donald was born sometime in 1920. This hardworking single mom experienced unspeakable tragedy in 1981 when her youngest son Michael was lynched by the Klu Klux Klan. Against all odds, she successfully sued the KKK. Her in-court forgiveness of the killers moved judge and jury to tears. Though the settlement—$7 million—was the largest ever, what she most wanted was to “know why they did it.”

Celebrate Plan Thank Reflect Express Prioritize Imagine Release Experience Confide Honor

here’s some good news . . .



Everyone’s got some greatness in them. You do. The girl over there does. That guy on the left has some. But in order to really mine it, you have to own it. You have to grab hold of it. You have to believe it. —Producer, screenwriter, and author Shonda Rhimes


Jane Johnston Schoolcraft, also known as Bamewawagezhikaquay, was likely born this day in 1800. She was the one of earliest American Indian literary writers, writing poetry and traditional Ojibwa stories, and translating Indigenous songs into English. She also penned several poems in her aboriginal language, also a first at the time.

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