Wilma Powell–The REGULATOR

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Wilma Powell a.k.a. The REGULATOR (photo: Courtesy Port of Long Beach

Wilma Powell
a.k.a. The REGULATOR
(photo: Courtesy Port of Long Beach)

Wilma Powell changed the way women’s roles are viewed at ports across the nation and the world, earning her the title, The Regulator, at the Port of Long Beach.

The first woman in the nation to hold the position of Chief Wharfinger, Wilma Powell was the first and only woman, and the first African American to be promoted to the executive position, and one of the highest levels of management at the Port of Long Beach, Director of Trade and Maritime Services, to whom the Chief Wharfinger reports. As Director of Trade and Maritime Services, Powell traveled throughout the U.S., Asia and Europe to meet with national and international executives whose companies–including Target, Walmart, Lowes, Payless Shoes, Home Depot, Nike, K-Mart, JC Penny and Sears, to name a few–that ship merchandise through the Port of Long Beach.

Port of Long Beach

Port of Long Beach

After 25 years as one of the most important persons in the more than 100-year history of the Port of Long Beach, with appointments to its highest positions–Port Chief Wharfinger, a.k.a. Port Chief Regulator, and Director of Trade and Maritime Services, Wilma Powell was presented with a commemorative REGULATOR Clock, which represents the high esteem with which she was held during her tenure at the Port of Long Beach.

Wilma Powell's Commemorative REGULATOR Clock, a gift upon her retirement from the Port of Long Beach

Wilma Powell’s Commemorative REGULATOR Clock, a gift upon her retirement from the Port of Long Beach

Wilma Powell’s commemorative REGULATOR Clock is one of the artifacts to be displayed in the upcoming BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way Exhibition, comprised of collections of historical photographs, document restorations, artifacts, official papers, memorabilia and much more on 12 African American LEGENDS who made a difference to the cultural history of Long Beach, California.

The other LEGENDS are: Carrie Bryant, first African American owner and operator of a private Long Beach school; Alta Cooke, first African American Long Beach High School Principal and Honorary Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff; Dale Clinton, first African American Long Beach Civil Rights Activist to write letter to President Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter in Library of Congress; Maycie Herrington; first African American Long Beach recipient of a Congressional Gold Medal and first Tuskegee Airmen historian; Evelyn Knight, Long Beach Civil Rights activist who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King from the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, March 1965; Patricia Lofland, first African American Member and   President of the Board of Trustees at Long Beach City College; Autrilla Scott, Autrilla Scott, first African American Long Beach Resident Honored with street name, Autrilla Scott Lane; Vera Mulkey, first African American City of Long Beach Chief of Staff; Bobbie Smith, first African American female elected to Public Office in Long Beach, first African American Faculty Senate President at Long Beach City College and has school named in her honor; Doris Topsy-Elvord, first African American Member and President of the Long Beach Harbor Commission and first African American female Long Beach City Council Member and Vice Mayor; and Lillie Mae Wesley, first African American to challenge Long Beach City Cemetery burial policy.

Leadership Long Beach Long Beach, California

Leadership Long Beach
Long Beach, California

The BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way (BTLW) Exhibition opens Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 4-7:00 p.m at the Long Beach Public Library (101 Pacific Avenue, Long Beach CA) Atrium Level. Be sure to see the BTLW FaceBook Page for details. While you’re there, be sure to LIKE their page. The overall project sponsor is Leadership Long Beach. Wilma Powell served as this community organization’s first African American president.

 

Sponsors – Partners – Donors

 

Leadership Long Beach – Project Sponsor

Port of Long Beach – Premier Signature Sponsor

Robin Perry & Associates – Signature Sponsor

Supervisor Don Knabe – Signature Sponsor

Arts Council for Long Beach – Signature Sponsor

Molina Healthcare – Signature Sponsor

City of Long Beach – Partner

LA County Sheriff’s Department – Partner

Historical Society of Long Beach – Partner

Long Beach Public Library – Partner

Long Beach City College – Partner

Long Beach Unified School District – Partner

Pepperdine University – Partner

International Realty – Donor

Chick-fil-A Towne Center Long Beach – Donor

Andy Street Community Association – Donor

Tuttle Cameras Long Beach – Donor

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Vera Mulkey – A Life of Giving and Achieving

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Vera Mulkey
Vera Mulkey

Vera Jo Smith Mulkey has made contributions to society through a life of giving, moral virtues and perseverance.

Vera Jo Smith Mulkey was born in 1936 in Austin, Texas, at the height of the Great Depression. At the time of her birth, many Americans, and especially African American females faced a dismal future of poverty with few choices in education and professional development.

Despite the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration’s federal aid programs during the depression to relieve unemployment, the vast number of government opportunities brought little advantage to Austin’s African American community. Black unemployment in Austin was high and opportunities were scarce for black students with ambition. Vera became one of those few ambitious students who was encouraged by her grandmother, Daisy Selmon, who owned a small farm where Vera spent every summer about 120 miles northeast of Austin near Nomangee, Texas, population less than 500 hundred when Vera was born and only 600 today.

Daisy Selmon Vera Mulkey's Grandmother
Daisy Selmon
Vera Mulkey’s Grandmother

“My grandmother said to always know I am somebody, to carry myself like I am somebody and do something with myself like I am somebody,” Vera said. “I listened to my grandmother, even though I wasn’t sure what I could do or what any little black girl in the south in the 1940s would be allowed to do. So, I studied hard and tried to make the best grades I could so my grandmother and my parents would be proud of me; and I have always tried to be a good person.” Vera’s legacy is so significant that she is part BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way about the contributions of 12 African American women who made a cultural difference in the history of Long Beach California.

Long Beach City College

Long Beach City College

BTLW is an educational project that includes an exhibition of historic photographs, document reproductions, artifacts, papers and memorabilia of women who were firsts in their careers. Vera Mulkey was the first African American to hold the position of Chief of Staff for the City of Long Beach, California. Vera achieved this career advancement with training at Long Beach City College, where she studied sociology.

Lorene Smith, Vera Mulkey's Mother
Lorene Smith, Vera Mulkey’s Mother

When Vera was a little girl, she learned from her mother the importance of sharing the little they had with other poor struggling neighborhood families. Vera’s parents grew weary of living on the fringe in East Austin–walking to distant downtown employment, where many black men shined shoes or worked as janitors and hard laborers, while women sweated over department store pressing tables.

Vera Mulkey, 1952 Anderson High School Austin, Texas
Vera Mulkey, 1952
Anderson High School
Austin, Texas

The struggle became too great even for Vera’s parents, due to no available work or low wages requiring multiple jobs that kept them away from their child for long periods. When Vera was a sophomore honor roll student and a majorette at Austin’s Anderson High School, her parents decided to leave Austin and, like many working poor of the Jim Crow impoverished southern United States, moved West to Long Beach, where they felt they would be able to find work at decent wages, own a home and educate their daughter.

Vera did not want to leave her school in Austin, but her parents promised that if she continued to make good grades in California, she would be able to attend a good college. Vera enrolled at Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California, and continued her honor roll work.

Long Beach Unified School District Personnel Commission

Long Beach Unified School District Personnel Commission

The transition from segregated Anderson High School in Austin to the integrated Polytechnic High School in the Long Beach Unified School District was difficult for Vera. She was not at all certain that she was prepared academically to complete with California students. “I was lonely at Poly,” Vera said. “Everything was different. I didn’t have any friends when I first got here, so all I did was study. And studying became a habit., a good habit, though.”

Before graduating from Polytechnic High School in 1954 as an honor student, Vera was recruited by Pepperdine University, a private, nonprofit, coeducational, integrated research university, affiliated with the Churches of Christ. Based on its student criteria, the university offered Vera a scholarship as an award for her academic achievements, her exemplary civic conduct and moral character.

Vera Mulkey, 1954 Graduate, Polytechnic High School Long Beach, California

Vera Mulkey, 1954
Graduate, Polytechnic High School
Long Beach, California

After high school graduating , Vera attended California State University, Long Beach, until she had to go to work full time. Eventually, after marriage and raising a family, she earned an Associate’s Degree in sociology from Long Beach City College in 1978. She began her professional career as a medical administrator for the late Dr. Charles Terry and then went on to become manager of a Psychiatric Services Medical Clinic in Downey. Vera became the first African American female to hold the position of Chief of Staff for the City of Long Beach, serving the Sixth District’s Councilman, Clearance Smith. This was the last position she held before her retirement. Vera Mulkey also was a constant presence on the Long Beach Unified School District Personnel Commission for 15 years and much of her service was a Chairperson.

“M mother taught me respect, respect for myself, first of all, and certainly respect for other people,” said Vera, who has earned many humanitarian awards and professional honors over the course of her life and career. “My mother taught me to be honest and to be myself. I have tried to carry that respect with me throughout my life. In learning to respect myself and to respect others, I believe I can call myself a lady.”

Pepperdine Letter from Dean Robert Harrell’s Office Expressing disappointment that Vera could not attend Pepperdine

For 61 years, Vera Jo has saved the Pepperdine Letter from Dean Robert Harrell’s Office expressing disappointment that she would not be attending Pepperdine

From Vera Mulkey’s Memoir:

“The most significant thing that happened to me soon after I arrived in Long Beach was a scholarship to Pepperdine. Unfortunately, my parents, examining the situation, were simply not able to defray the cost beyond the scholarship, which covered tuition. Pepperdine was a very expensive school. While the college offered some employment opportunities on campus, the administration’s strong recommendation was that they didn’t really want their freshmen to engage in employment. They felt that employment might negatively impact their studies.

So, to my disappointment, I was not able to use the Pepperdine scholarship. Receiving that scholarship was very significant to me because I was new to California. I was new to Long Beach. To be able to come to Long Beach, California, and have that kind of honor was important to me and was very important to my parents as well. But I recognized our financial situation and just had to move on.

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University

I really have to back up when I think about the Pepperdine scholarship. I sometimes wonder what I would have been able to do with my career had I been able to attend Pepperdine. I think my focus would have been somewhat different than it was. In my career, I would like to have been able to devote more time to furthering my education.”

Leadership Long Beach Long Beach, California

Leadership Long Beach
Long Beach, California

The BREAKING THROUGH Lighting the Way (BTLW) Exhibition opens Tuesday, September 29, 2015, 4-7:00 p.m at the Long Beach Public Library (101 Pacific Avenue, Long Beach CA) Atrium Level. Be sure to see the BTLW FaceBook Page for details. While you’re there, be sure to LIKE their page. The overall project sponsor is Leadership Long Beach.

Sponsors – Partners – Donors

 

Leadership Long Beach – Project Sponsor

Port of Long Beach – Premier Signature Sponsor

Robin Perry & Associates – Signature Sponsor

Supervisor Don Knabe – Signature Sponsor

Arts Council for Long Beach – Signature Sponsor

Molina Healthcare – Signature Sponsor

City of Long Beach – Partner

LA County Sheriff’s Department – Partner

Historical Society of Long Beach – Partner

Long Beach Public Library – Partner

Long Beach City College – Partner

Long Beach Unified School District – Partner

Pepperdine University – Partner

International Realty – Donor

Chick-fil-A Towne Center Long Beach – Donor

Andy Street Community Association – Donor

Tuttle Cameras Long Beach – Donor

Rosa Parks & The Montgomery Bus Boycott

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Rosa Park kept her seat and ignited the Montgomery Bus Boycott, setting off in the nation a protest against Jim Crow laws  that became the Civil Rights Movement, of which she became the mother.

 

Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-56

Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-56

I didn’t fully understand what Jim Crow laws were when  was a little girl. I just knew Jim Crow laws were bad for black people and meant there were many restrictions on what we could do:

Where we could live
Where we could go
What seat we could take
Where we could eat
Where we could go to school

Although, news reports of Rosa Parks were slow to reach our home, I began to realize the role Rosa Parks played in the fight against Jim Crow laws. My parents tried to insulate me from the ravages of discrimination the best they could, but I had to go out into the world to go to school and shop. Even as a child, I could see the differences between our streets and those that led to the downtown district. Then when my house and neighborhood began buzzing about civil rights news and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I learned about Jim Crow laws, the Civil Rights Movement and the names of civil rights activists like Rosa Parks from hearing their names in conversations between my mother, father and Bigmama when they talked about current events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Brown v the Board of Education.

Laura Nelson, Oklahoma, 1911

Laura Nelson, Oklahoma, 1911

At the time, though, there was no biographical information about the central figures of the civil rights movement and my family probably had no idea of Rosa Parks’ involvement in the protection of black women from rape and lynching. I only began to learn about that part of her life lately as I investigated for a book I am writing about her. I am shocked that I was not aware of the number of black women raped and lynched in America after slavery ended. Rape and lynching of black women and, of course also black men, went on through the 1950s and ’60s.

The Laura Nelson lynching was two years before Rosa Parks was born, but still fresh in the minds of young black girls as to what could happen to them. I never saw this picture when I was a child, but I had heard the name Laura Nelson and the fear that accompanied discussions of her lynching. I remember thinking, Laura Nelson could be me or a woman in my family.

Rosa Parks - Booking Photo, Montgomery Bus Boycott

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks joined the NAACP and became an investigator of rape and lynching of black women in Alabama a decade before the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She set out to prove that lynching was being used as a weapon against the African American community by the ruling class to control behavior. Parks unearthed several cases of rape, but was unable to bring them to justice and use them to fight Jim Crow laws and treatment of black communities.

Eventually, Parks and the NAACP planned the Montgomery Bus Boycott to meet civil rights requirements because black women going to work were the primary passengers and were being abused and discriminated against while riding the buses. For her part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were jailed.

Little Girls Killed in Alabama

Little Girls Killed in Alabama

I knew of the children killed in the church bombing in Alabama. They were my age. They could have been me and my friends. If the purpose of all the violence I was hearing about and seeing on television was to frighten me, then the violence did what it was intended to do. I was scared out of my wits.

In fact, I didn’t want to go out of the house. I just didn’t see the point in living at all until my mother told me, “You have no choice but to live,” she said. “When you think you can’t go on, you go on.”

My family either knew changes were coming or were unwilling to let me use Jim Crow laws as an excuse for bad behavior and poor performance in the schools I was allowed to attend. My mother, especially, made me feel really badly when I confessed to her that I was not currently reading a book that had not been assigned at school. Then, she would assign a book. She had constructed shelves in the living room for books that she purchased at yard sales and places going out of business. At that time, in our town, the library was not actually segregated, but reserved for white readers only. My mother and I made many trips on a Greyhound Bus to public libraries in cities near us.

Jim Crow laws affected everything about our lives, including the schools I attended until I graduated from high school; and later getting into college. But Jim Crow laws did not affect the global education my mother presented to me with my China tea set and other tools, like meditation, which she discovered and adapted to her global education. My mother would use that China tea set to teach me about the world outside of Jim Crow Laws, under which my ancestors had lived for nearly a century and my family would live for years to come.

Sunny Nash, Author Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's

Sunny Nash, Author
Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s

Sunny Nash–author, producer, photographer and leading writer on U.S. race relations in–writes books, blogs, articles and reviews, and produces media and images on U.S. history and contemporary American topics, ranging from Jim Crow laws to social media networking, Nash uses her book to write articles and blogs on race relations in America through topics relating to her life–from music, film, early radio and television, entertainment, social media, Internet technology, publishing, journalism, sports, education, employment, the military, fashion, performing arts, literature, women’s issues, adolescence and childhood, equal rights, social and political movements–past and present—to today’s post-racism. 

Bigmama Didn’t Shop at Woolworth’s is recognized by the Association of American University Presses for its value to the understanding of U.S. race relations. The book is also listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg in New York and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida. 

© 2013 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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Shooting Without A Gun

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In the neighborhood I grew up in, guns, knives, fists, chains and other weapons were common. I saw first hand what guns and other violence could do to a neighborhood, a family, a childhood.

On weekends, people got drunk and forgot what they had been taught at home, if they had ever been taught anything at home. As a child, I saw this behavior around me, no matter how hard my mother tried to shield me from it. The behavior was in my family. Cousins, aunts, uncles who visited sometimes had too much to drink, and sometimes started fights with each other or friends or neighbors or anyone handy.

Walking home from school, I passed five beer joints where drunks staggered to the sides of the buildings to relieve themselves in plain view. Fights were so common, we simply crossed the street to avoid being hit by flying beer bottles. My cousin was shot in the arm passing by a beer joint at mid-day. All the violence around me was hard to digest. People were saying it was because poor black people felt cheated and discriminated against; and they didn’t know any other way to handle their frustrations than violence.

Even the president wasn’t safe from the violence. President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas as I watched on television with the rest of my schoolmates. Some Americans said they were not saddened by his assassination and blamed his liberal Civil Rights policies for his death.

Kennedy_signing bill

President John F. Kennedy

At the time, I was child struggling with a life that was filled with violence. If the president of the United States could not be protected from violence, how could I feel safe? Television was filled with police violence against civil rights marchers and bus riders. Dogs were even set loose on little school children protesting Jim Crow laws.

When a man killed a cousin of mine by beating her to death with a car chain, he went to prison for about a year. I vowed to kill him when he got out, not because I was afraid of him. I felt pure vengence when I stole my grandmother’s gun from her underwear drawer. But I couldn’t find her bullets. She discovered my plan and confronted me. Later, she presented me with a Brownie camera and said, “Now, you can shoot without a gun.

Read more about Sunny Nash’s childhood in her book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, about life with her part-Comanche grandmother, Bigmama, during the era of Jim Crow laws in the United States. Nash’s book is recognized by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding U.S. race relations; listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York; and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida.

Parenting A Race

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Parenting–making a home, keeping the family safe and providing for the children–was essential during the Jim Crow era and the Civil Rights Movement, when people like Rosa Parks stepped up to demonstrate to America’s black children how to get their civil rights.

Parenting, making a home and keeping the family sheltered and safe are activities that cross all racial, ethnic, economic and gender boundaries. Home and family got America through slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement, assassinations of presidents and national leaders, integration, re-segregation and post-racism.

Tuskegee Airmen, Jim Crow Laws and Black Pilots

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During the era of Jim Crow laws in America, the Tuskegee Airmen, some of whom became Red Tails, the first black pilots trained for U.S. military service, flew World War II (WWII) combat missions and helped to desegregate the American army.

When Tuskegee Institute in Alabama was chosen to train black pilots for the Tuskegee Airmen project, the Civilian Pilot Training Program had already completed aeronautical training of students by May 1940. Tuskegee’s Moton Airfield Institute was named for Robert Russa Moton, its second president, and funded by the Julius Rosenwald Fund.

There were also women providing support services at the institute for the Tuskegee Airmen.

One of those women was Maycie Herrington, a clerk at the Tuskegee Airmen Training Institute. After the war, Herrington became a member of the Tuskegee Airmen non-profit service organization. Since that time, she has spent most of her adult life collecting, organizing and preserving historic documents and photographs concerning the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group that produced a fearless group of WWII air warriors, the Red Tails, getting this name when the black pilots painted the tails of their aircraft red to distinguish their planes from others.

In 2007, President George W. Bush presented Maycie Herrington, about 300 surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen and other support personnel Congressional Gold Medals for their service to WWII and the United States of America.

The adventures of this heroic group of fighter pilots is so amazing that George Lucas devoted a quarter-century of his life raising funds to produce the action movie, Red Tails, telling the story of this era of Jim Crow laws. 

The heroism of the Tuskegee Airmen went much deeper than flying airplanes over a burning and bombed-out Europe. Their heroism extended into personal safety in their own army due to racism and discrimination that existed on their homeland.

Social Media Networking Works

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Social media networking and Internet press releases build target audiences and can be combined with email and business cards to create an effective free book publicity and marketing strategy. 

Social Media Icons

Social Media Marketing Icons

Building an audience using social media networking, email and business cards may sound like a fantasy, but it can be done and is being done by people who are not trying to sell anything. People who are are simply trying to get a crowd to their next party are using social media networking.

Others using social media networking have hosted occasions recently by inviting their social media network groups to gatherings that turned out to be disasters because so many people showed up at a private residence for a pool party or too many fans showed up at a musical event!

Then why we shouldn’t use social media networking for more serious reasons? Political campaigns do. Medical doctors do. Real estate professionals do. Even people who are looking for jobs use social media networking to find employment. There is no limit, it seems, on how to fashion a social media campaign to suite your needs.

Not that you want to create a riotous environment at your next event, you can still use the basic concept of social media to develop a list of prospective invitees. The purpose of this post is to give you some ideas by sharing with you how I have successfully used social media, email and business cards  to plan live or internet events. Authors, musicians and other professionals are using FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin and other social media services to sell out their dates and sell their products.

Sunny Nash Signs Her Book

I’m the author of the book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, a memoir  about life with my part-Comanche grandmother during the Civil Rights Movement, recognized by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding U.S. race relations. This book and others I have in progress are a source of material this blog, Sunny Nash –  Ethnicity and Culture and my most popular blog, Sunny Nash – Race Relations in America.

Every author needs a book to sign when speaking in public to live audiences or presenting online to virtual communities, who are also anxious to own the author’s signed book. This a good use for social media networking, an opportunity to tie all the pieces together: the book, event promotions, public speaking engagements and book advertising and sales.

In fact, my publisher, Texas A&M University Press, had me sign 1000 copies of my book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, when it was first released and then advertised to its perspective audience that signed copies of my book were available for sale. The signed copies sold first.

Audiences want a signature and they will buy the book to get it.

Both online and live target audiences through social media networking can increase book sales on location and on the Internet if you get all the tools working together. In person these gatherings mean immediate business contacts sitting out there listening to you talk about yourself, your profession and your book that they will surely buy. An author is more valuable with that book on the table at the back of the room where you can sit or stand to meet your guests and sign books they purchase.

You know that expression, “Have a book on the table at the back of the room?” Well, it means more credibility as a public speaker and more book sales for an author. 

Sunny Nash signs her book, Bigmama Didn't Shop At nWoolworth's

Sunny Nash Signs Her Book

If you are an author, what better opportunity can you have than a chance to invite a group of family, friends, fans, followers and connections to your next book signing and public speaking event? When I first started in this writing business, there were no social media networks from which to build a target audience. In fact, email was still new.

To advertise public speaking engagements and book signing events, the publishing industry and independent authors relied on traditional means of publicity–newspapers, newsletters, radio, television, flyers, posters, mailed invitations and word of mouth–all of which, except word of mouth, could run into hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Sunny Nash Featured in Press-Telegram, Long Beach CA

Sunny Nash, author of Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's, Featured in Press-Telegram

When I was new to the book circuit, before my events,  in addition to my normal flutters of butterflies in the stomach, I always feared that no one would show up. And I was always wrong. When I drove into the parking lot of an event location and saw all the cars, then I felt comfortable that preparations had not been wasted effort.

Sunny Nash Featured in The Los Angeles Times, Best Bets Section

Sunny Nash Event Featured in The Los Angeles Times

Many guests will come to your book signing events if they have read about you or your book in the newspaper. I was fortunate to have been featured in several newspapers before events. Newspaper coverage of your book will give your sales and event attendance a boost.

Many newspapers are now online and must be approached differently than they were in the old days, but still they are rich in value. If a reporter writes a feature article about you, that becomes free publicity. However, if you have to take out an advertisement in the newspaper, that will cost serious cash. The same thing is true of radio and television interviews as well. Always go for free book publicity when you can.

Some guests will come to your events because they know you and want to support you. Others will come out of curiosity. Whatever their reasons, welcome them, give them some time, and let them buy your book and become a permanent contact in your database. You never want to speak in public without having your book on the table at the back of the room and a hefty supply of business cards to exchange with members of your audience.

I say business card exchange because having the business cards of your audience in your possession is as important as their having your business card in their possession. The business cards you collect should be placed in your contact database for future reference via email or social media networking to remind the person who you are, where you met and how a relationship can benefit you both.

Beneficial Relationships

  • Consulting Contracts
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Social Media Networks
  • Employment Opportunities

Don’t take too long to make your contacts with those in your audience, lest they forget about you. Something or someone new is always on the horizon and people’s attention is turned away from you very easily in this age of rapid and constant information. Take the opportunity in an email message to thank them for attending your book event and to extend an invitation to join you in a social media network.

Social media networking is about more than building up a large number of names in your network. Social media networking can become a serious marketing tool. However, you want to be careful about selling to your connections. They will be offended if selling is all you do. Your posts and offers must extend helpful tips, links and information that you would normally share with friends, family and business associates. If you make the social media connection with members of your public speaking audience, be sure to place the new connection in the appropriate group so you can include them in your next event, link or newsletter distribution.

Those business cards you collect at your events are a valuable resource that many people overlook and have begun to discount because of technology. Look into the back of your desk drawer and see how many business cards you have dropped in there and shoved to the back. Those are contacts you failed to make. That failure could have cost you a contract, a book sale or an invitation to speak to a group, depending upon how long the business card has been lying in the drawer.

I developed a little system that helps me to keep my contact database fresh with the business cards I collect. Using inexpensive supplies from an office supply outlet, I have made my business card contacts available for use when I need them. Take a look.

Please visit my YouTube Channel and subscribe.

To prepare for a public speaking event of my own, I wrote an internet press release and an article for online distribution and submitted them to a free online publicity service. Being careful to include all the logistical information, I also included information about my book, writing career and other features of the event. Don’t be afraid to talk about your honors and other activities that make you look good. Be sure to mention in your announcements that there will be refreshments. Really, you may ask? The mention of event refreshments in your announcements may sound like a little thing, but food draws an audience, especially the media. Little things count. When I was working for radio, television and newspapers, and I had a choice of events to cover, I chose the events that had food on the front table.

Be careful about the number of links you include in your press release. I usually include my primary blog link and a link to my book page. If you don’t have a book fan page, by all means create one and post a like to your Internet press release about your book event in the status of your fan page, as well as the status of all your social media networks.

"Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's by Sunny Nash"

Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's by Sunny Nash

At book signing events, I talk about and read from my book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, a family memoir about life with my part-Comanche grandmother, Bigmama, before and during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. When possible, my publisher will arrange for a team tol come to my location and take care of book sales. I like that. It frees me to schmooze with members of the audience.

After I wrote my Internet press release, I knew that would not be enough to get me an audience. Those press releases can reach the entire planet and still not get you a local audience. So, I went into my social media networks and found the contacts in the area where I was appearing and targeted them individually with a note to their page and invited them to my event. Then, I searched my email addresses for names of those in my local and surrounding community whom I thought would be interested in my event. Do not forget those people who may still need to receive an invitation by postal mail.

In an email message to my list of invitees, I placed a link to the Internet press release that announced and described my event. I learned early in the digital media game that attachments are NOT as effective as links. People are reluctant to open attachments for fear of computer infections and attachments are large files, whereas, links are small. Although I still mail out a few invitations to those loyal fans who do not use computer technology. However, email invitations save significantly on postage.

Place email addresses and social media contacts into convenient categories where those in the groups share common interests, conversations and discussions. It simplifies your communications with them. If you have kept in touch with the groups on a frequent basis, they are already familiar with you and your work from your conversations, discussions, blogs and links.

Your target audience is out there awaiting your invitation. Go get them!

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