LIVING HERSTORY: CELEBRATING BOLD AFRICAN-DESCENT WOMEN
Join us as we celebrate Black History Month on our blog this February. We’ll celebrate Bold Women’s Day during Women’s History Month in March. Follow this blog every Monday, as we reflect together about bold women—women whose collective voices are changing the lives of women and girls every day!
Agojie, Viola Davis, Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Woman King
by Valora Starr
The movie, The Woman King stars Viola Davis as a leader of the Agojie, an all-female warrior group that existed in the 1800s. They protected the kingdom of Dahomey (modern-day Benin) in West Africa. The making of the film provided a platform for the making of Viola’s story and her fight along with Gina Prince-Bythewood, director. to give voice to the obstacles the production team faced when pitching the historical epic centered on strong Black women.
Davis and Prince-Bythewood connected the life of the Agojie and that of Black women today–giving voice to both–whose story of fighting for their people’s freedom and their strength that is found in sisterhood. Often for Black women, their stories are stripped and distorted and retold to them. The Woman King is a step in reclaiming the story of women.
Gina Prince-Bythewood summed up their fight for race and gender this way after reflecting on the exclusion of her film by the Academy of Motion Picture and Arts and Sciences; she said it left her “disappointed.” Her speaking up on behalf of the film (which was not nominated) was about more than the movie, Viola and Gina. It’s about the work of Black women, all women and girls who are overlooked and, in most cases, silenced and buried not just in Hollywood but in every industry in the marketplace.
It is time for us to dig around and uncover our sisters’ work and excellence. Most often, it is in excellence that we find the lessons that lift us up!
View The Woman King.
(The film is available on-demand, streaming online, and through digital retailers.)
- Why is herstory so important for us today?
- How are women of African Descent seen today?
God, we thank you for the gift of story. Give us the nudge we need to speak out even when our voice shakes. Amen.
Valora Starr is the director for discipleship, Women of the ELCA.