The Brea(d)th of America

Speak Out! Listen! Reflect! Learn!

You are invited to participate in an Open Mic to be held on the Shirley Chisholm Circle in Brower Park

Date: May 21, 2017
Location: Brower Park, Crown Heights, Brooklyn (Park Place and Kingston Avenue), New York
Time: 12 Noon to 4 PM 
Refreshments and Entertainment

On May 21, 1969, Shirley Chisholm introduced the Equal Rights Amendment to Congress. The Bill was passed by Congress. Unfortunately, only 35 states of the 38 states (3/4) required to amend the U.S. Constitution approved the Equal Rights Amendment. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia did not vote to ratify the amendment. Would the Equal Rights Amendment be ratified today?

The Brea(d)th of America is an opportunity for our community to share our individual perspectives, experiences and understandings about the “American Dream:” What makes, would make America great? Listen to the American story through the lens of our individual experiences? What future(s) do you see? Krista Tippett writes in “On Becoming Wise”: “I can disagree with your opinion, it turns out, but I can’t disagree with your experience. And once I have a sense of your experience, you and I are in relationship, acknowledging the complexity in each other’s position, listening less guardedly. The difference in our opinions will probably remain intact, but it no longer defines what is possible between us.”


It is an opportunity to experience and explore the rich human fabric of our American experiences. How are the local, national and global challenges in today’s political, cultural, and economic climate affecting you?

It is an opportunity to share the rich diversity of our dreams. And to engage in an open conversation that can lead to the fulfillment of the 18th century American attempt of “We the People”. Let’s try to follow Frances Kissling’s approach to facilitating conversation, “The pressure of coming to agreement works against really understanding each other…approach others positively and with enthusiasm for difference is absolutely critical to any change. More importantly, you’ve got to approach differences with this notion that there is good in the other. That it.”


Add your voice to the discussion. Listen to the myriad of perspectives and life experiences of your neighbors. This is not an opportunity to make political speeches or proselytize. Demeaning language and stereotypical labeling of others in our American community will not be accepted. Be thoughtful, logical, and fair. Use researched and verifiable facts if you are presenting an original work. Let the facts express your values and point of view. You may choose to read an excerpt from an existing work that has affected your views and approach toward your life. Apply the same rules of fairness.


Express your views in your favorite form…

If you are a writer use your favorite form e.g. short story, essay, commentary, poem, play, argument, etcetera. If you prefer visual express1ion e.g. photo essay, graphic expression, drawing, painting, video, etcetera. Those of you who love music and dance sing, dance, play your instrument. All works will be displayed in the Brea(d)th of America website gallery. We ask that you limit your remarks to 5 minutes or less to maximize access to the Mic.


What follows is a list of resource materials (that can only be incomplete) to help you compose your ideas. You are welcome to suggest additions to this list by emailing us at Please put “Resource List” in the subject line.

Historical and Contemporary Points of View

United States Constitutional Documents

United States Civil and Equal Rights

  • I Have a Dream speech, Martin Luther King
  • Shirley Chisholm’s Speech introducing the Equal Rights Amendment to Congress
  • The Equal Rights Amendment
  • Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln January 1, 1863
  • 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Ratified by Congress on December 6, 1865.

Human Rights, Equal Rights, Civil Rights

  • The Four Freedoms Speech: President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941
  • Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, adopted by the French National Assembly in 1789 and used as a preface to the French Constitution of 1791.
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948 

This View of Life

    • Let America Be America Again: Langston Hughes 
    • Hip hop poems
    • “The New Colossus” poem by Emma Lazarus-Statue of Liberty, 1883
    • Rogers and Hammerstein South Pacific “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” 
    • Toni Morrison:
    • James Baldwin: Go Tell it on the Mountain
    • Lorraine Hansberry A Raisin in the sun
    • Barack Obama: Audacity of Hope, Dreams of My Father
    • Zora Neale Hurston:
    • W.E.B. Du Bois:
    • Gwendolyn Brooks:
    • Richard Wright: Native Son
    • Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man
    • Alice Walker: The Color Purple
    • Countee Cullen: Color
    • Frederick Douglass My Bondage and my Freedom
    • Maya Angelou: I know why the caged bird sings
    • Rita Dove: Thomas and Beulah
    • Nikki Giovanni: Acolytes
    • The Essential Rumi: Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi
    • Does My Head Look Big in This? Randa Abdel-Fattah
    • Reading Lolita in Tehran: Azar Nafisi
    • Muhammad: Man and Prophet: Adil Salahi
    • Does My Head Look Big in This? Randa Abdel-Fattah
    • Reading Lolita in Tehran: Azar Nafisi
    • Muhammad: Man and Prophet: Adil Salahi
    • Islam in Focus: hammudah Abd Al-Ati
    • In the Footsteps of the Prophet, Lessons from the life of Muhammad: Tariq Ramadan
    • The Muslim Next Door: Sumbul Ali-Karamali
    • The Domestic Crusaders (a play about Muslim Pakistani American family): Wajahat Ali
    • The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf: Mohja Kahf
    • Purification of the Heart: Hamza Yusuf
    • Al-Ghazali’s Path to Sufism (11th century autobiography)
    • Ramayana, authorship attributed to sage Valmiki (500 BCE to 100 BCE)
    • Meeting God, Elements of Hindu Devotion: Stephen P. Huyler
    • Walt Whitman
    • The Adi Granth or Holy Scriptures of the Sikh: Dr. Ernest Trumpp
    • Jasmine’s Summer Wish: Liz Glines (picture book of NYC children dealing with the realities of climate change)
    • The Sikhs: Patwant Singh
    • Lost In History: 1984 Reconstructed: Gunisha Kaur
    • Making Ethnic choices: california’s Punjabi Mexican Americans: Karen Leonard
    • The Kids Book of World Religions: Jennifer Glossop and John Mantha
    • Journey to Ellis Island: Carol Bierman (children)
    • Donald the Beaver Builds a Big Beautiful Wall: Judy Jean Kwon
    • Willow Run: Patricia Reilly Giff
    • Lily’s Crossing: Patricia Reilly Giff
    • Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook Up the National Park Service: Annette Bay Pimentel
    • Girl in Translation: Jean Kwok
    • The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (Landmarks of the American Mosaic): John Soennichsen.
    • The Girl Who Wrote in Silk: Kelli Estes
    • The Napping Quilt: A Family’s Story of Coming to America: Gary Dei Rossi
    • White on Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890-1945
    • How Race is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts (American Crossroads): Natalia Molina
    • Bronzeville Boys and Girls: Gwendolyn Brooks
  • The Natural World We Humans (homosapiens) Inhabit
  • Religious/Sectarian Texts/Books
    • Qur’an
    • Five Books of Moses (Talmud)
    • New Testament
    • The Holy Geeta: Swami Chinmayananda
  • Life Practice
    • Tripitaka (Pali Canon) earliest collection of Buddhist writings: the teachings of Gautama Buddha
    • What is Buddhism?: Buddhism for Children: Geshe Kelsang Gyatso