African American women’s book club supports sisterhood, love of reading and giving back

By Taki S. Raton

Sista Girls Book Club Members - Photo by Robert A. Bell

Sista Girls Book Club Members – Photo by Robert A. Bell

The Renaissance Room was the host site on July 13, 2014 for a beautiful sun glowed afternoon celebration of the Sista Girls Book Club.

This African American owned 4103 North Port Washington Avenue location provided the perfect atmosphere within its very elegant yet intimate bronze adorned atmosphere for their Sunday brunch in praise of sisterhood, friendship, and mutual support.

“I founded the Sista Girls Book Club in February of 2010 because I was quite disturbed by some of the images being portrayed in reality TV of African American women,” says Markita Jefferson.

“I have always been an avid reader and thought there must be others in Milwaukee who, just like me, wanted to gather for empowering positive discussions of literature and current events,” she adds in an interview.

Jefferson’s vision was to create an African American women’s book club for women interested in good books, great conversation, positivity, and sisterhood.

The founder shares that there are currently 45 listed members in the group which meets once a month.

Sista Girls Book Club Members - Photo by Robert A. Bell

Sista Girls Book Club Members – Photo by Robert A. Bell

The members, she further reveals, have assisted each other in exploring employment opportunities, joined together in youth volunteer initiatives, and have formed long lasting friendships.

“What makes our organization so nice is that the ages range varies from college age to well on into the 50’s and 60’s.

It makes the selection of books quite interesting and the conversations very informative.

Members bring their experiences from all walks of life to our meetings,” she says.

Titles read in the Sista Girls Book Club include “The Black Girl Next Door” by Jennifer Lynn Baszile, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot, “Peace from Broken Pieces” by Iyannla Vanzant, Delores Phillips’ “The Darkest Child,” Ayana Byrd’s “Untangling the Roots of Black Hair,” “The Conversation” by Hill Harper, “Color Me Butterfly” by L.Y. Marlow, “Who Asked You” by Terry McMillian, and Robin Roberts’ “My Story My Song.”

“I’m excited to celebrate this dynamic group,” notes member Tamika Bowen.

The love of reading brought us together.

But the intelligent discourse, varied perspectives and open hearts are what keeps me coming back month after month.

SGBC has to be one of the most enriching and supportive meet-up groups here in Milwaukee.”

Key organizing elements of the Sista Girls Book Club as structured by founder Jefferson are Sisterhood, Setting an Example and Giving Back.

The “Giving Back” model was duly reflected as a select group of young ladies were invited to attend the Renaissance Room Sunday event.

Chosen from organizations of which the Sista Girls Book Club members volunteer, the teens were awarded gift bags of cards and back-to-school items.

“We are always mindful of giving back and supporting our young ladies in our community so that they can see beautiful examples of sisterhood,” says Jefferson.

Sista Girls Book Club Members - Photo by Robert A. Bell

Sista Girls Book Club Members – Photo by Robert A. Bell

She additionally shares that, “It is important to demonstrate to our young ladies that Black women do get along, enjoy socializing together, are not petty and do not cat-fight over nonsense.”

Member Leslie Posey remarks, “What better way to celebrate than to let young women see women of color embracing our love of books and for one another.”

Invited teen recipients were Jasmyne Johnson, and Rayanna Echols, both 16, Ashley Horns, 17, and 18 year-olds’ Kristin Griffin and Deja Olloway.

“Future book club planning will extend invitations to upwards of five high schools teens to join the group once a quarter to explore contemporary and classical literature that resonates with multiple generations and stimulate conversations that are insightful and cultivates a better understanding and appreciation of both generations,” observes Jefferson.

For those seeking additional information on the Sista Girls Book Club, please visit their website at http://www.meetup.com/Sistagirls-Book-Club/.

Malcolm D. Martin is the proprietor of the Renaissance Room. For appointments to visit his establishment, call Martin at (414) 807-3862 or reach him via email at ranaissanceroommke@gmail.com.