"A Storyteller's Story"

by Diane Butts March. 17, 2020 1700 views

Celebrating Women's History Month with Dr. Judi Moore Latta, Author.

Dr. Judi Moore Latta, Silver Spring, Maryland

Dr. Judi Moore Latta, Silver Spring, Maryland

Dr. Judi Moore Latta’s list of credits is long, really long.

Her career as a media professional and award-winning journalist spanned more than three decades. She's worked in radio and television, and produced more than 150 documentaries. She earned the George Foster Peabody Award as senior producer of the NPR / Smithsonian radio series, Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions.

She worked as a professor at Howard University and conducted extensive research on myriad topics.

And the list goes on.

Judi describes herself as a storyteller who is one of the “GRITS” (Girls Raised in the South). Growing up in Tallahassee, segregation was a way of life. Despite that, her parents instilled the belief that she could do anything. With a strong work ethic, and just the right push from her "village," she soared.

Telling stories and preserving history has always been her passion. And she definitely has a way with words. She's an accomplished author, now finishing her third book.

We spent some time talking about her second book, Beyond Roses, An Obligation to Speak – Finding Voice for Conversations.

“The book kind of emerged. My mom, Laverne, was an incredible woman.

"She loved flowers, but unfortunately she did not have a green thumb. The local Walmart sold flowers, so she purchased plastic ones – mostly red, and in different colors whenever they were on sale, and put them in her garden.

"Everyone in the neighborhood knew they weren’t real but they never said anything. 'Don't mention Ms. Moore's flowers,' they would say.

“She loved flowers so much, partly because she felt they were connected with one’s humanity.

“After mom died in 2007, my neighbor came to tell us about the perfect live red rose that had grown … not on a bush, just a single rose where her flowers used to be. That rose has come back once or twice per year … a single rose next to her house.

“That was the basis for this book.

"I didn’t think my mom was in that rose, but there was a spirit in the rose driving and pushing me to tell stories and help others learn to tell their stories.

"Helping you find your voice and tell your story. Especially across lines of division and places where people diverge.

"While most of the emphasis has to do with race, there are stories and a toolkit to prompt you to move forward."

"We can’t be human by ourselves. We have to be human in relationships so this is about having relationships and conversations across those lines.

Like many authors, Judi is a voracious reader. Her home is filled with hundreds of books. New books, old books, and many signed treasures fill three libraries. The walls are lined with beautiful art from her travels.

Positive energy fills the spaces.

She shares a little about the third book.

"My mom was very organized, and everything in her house was always labeled. When she passed and I went home to Tallahassee I started looking at things to move. I opened one drawer, and there was a piece of paper that said 'Judi, don’t throw away anything in these drawers, Love, Mom.'

"And of course I didn’t.

"What I found were letters … about 200 of them that my mom and dad wrote to each other in WWII. I started putting their stories in the context of the experiences they had and the lessons I learned, a journey that starts when my father worked on a ship to put himself through college in the 1930s and then met and married my mom when they both were on the faculty of a Black college in the 1940s. Their love helped them both survive."

I learned so many things. I’ve been working on it for 15 years.

"I used to complain about all the interruptions in my life until I realized the interruptions were my life.

That book was interrupted by the other two. But now I'm almost finished."

She says the book will be released soon.

In addition to her literary pursuits, Judi is active in the community. She is a member of several organizations, including the Silver Spring, Maryland Chapter of the Links, Inc. and NCNW, Inc., working with girls transitioning to womanhood in the Girls' Rites of Passage program.

Judi is married with two daughters and four grandchildren.

She is indeed a busy woman, and still soaring.

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