Remembering Gwynelle Dismukes
by Rev. Sizwe Herring
Gwynelle C. Dismukes "won" her battle with renal disease on October 3rd in Flat Rock, NC. She did leave behind a rich legacy of publishing and writing books on family, community empowerment and her latest "Black 2 The Future" is creatively penned like a channeled science fiction piece. It also features writings (Marie Douglas), poetry (Adora Dupree), and an interview with Roy "Futureman" Wooten on the Black Mozart and the simultaneous nature of time.
She was a sought after performance poet and workshop leader on many subjects including African centered spirituality, peace education, sustainability, conflict resolution and Kwanzaa. She leaves behind two children, Chaing-tu Emmanuel and Alpha Aminata and hundreds of extended family members around the world.
She published two newspapers, Brite Moments and the MultiCultural Resource Guide. Present at practically all community events that uplifted our global communities including Juneteenth, African Street Festivals, Peace Marches and was one of the founders of the Hadley Park Concert Series. She was devoted to cultivating "Dao" in her everyday life and culture. Gwynelle was a founding curator at the (now defunct) Sankofa African Heritage Museum in Nashville and had a wide array of fun, exciting jobs including management of Reggae Sunsplash concerts in the islands. Here, she met and fell on love with the famous Alpha Blondy, reggae superstar. She lived in Washington DC for many years. More recently she founded a successful local "susu" and performance troupe called "Women To The Nth Power" with notable writer/performers Sela "Serenity" Pearson and Thandiwe Shiprah.
Gwynelle faithfully served on many community non-profit boards including the Farm, MediationWorks!, Center for Peace Education, and was heavily responsible for the successful history of EarthMatters Tennessee and the George W. Carver Food Park. One of her favorite Carver quotes is "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these." In 2008 she appeared on a panel at the Belcourt Theatre after a screening of the Secret Life of Plants and taught the audience how to successfully communicate with their plants and the natural world.
In an apparent preparation for her passing, she moved to Asheville, NC, not far from where she was born in 1952. She frequented Mt. Zion Baptist Church to be "with my people" and continued participation with the largest Dao Temple in the United States in Fletcher, NC. Her apartment nestled atop her literal "Crystal Mountain" with a stupendous view and lovingly hand fed families of chipmunks and birds. Her 17 year old dog, Coco, was her constant companion, always keeping things lively.
A Memorial Service, co-officiated by Rev. Maryellen Bowen and Rev. Sizwe Herring, will be held on October 23rd at 3 pm at The Farm cemetery in Summertown, TN where she lived with her family for 10 years. A Life Celebration Benefit will happen from 1:55 pm - 5:55 pm at the George W. Carver Food Park and Garden where she served on the leadership team for many years. The Park, located at 1001 Gale Lane, will host a celebration that will uplift her work through remembrances, art, music, reiki, alternative healing, massages as well as a planting of trees in her memory.
Cards and support can be sent to: 1814 Lillian St. Nashville, TN 37206, c/o Sizwe Herring to her Family and Legacy Fund, Brite Spirits. Some of the essays, remembrances, photos and clippings will be featured on Gwyn's web site: www.britefutures.com