In the midst of Old Dominion University, there is an angel.
The influence this one woman brings to this corner of the world ripples through to reach globally. Without ego, with an immensely open heart, she teaches her classes and opens eyes to incredible worlds. It is subtle, most times, the effect she has but long after sitting in one of her classes does the affect continue to flourish within the student.
In her class Chick Flicks, the world of movies is opened up in a way that one never sees a movie the same way again. Names that roll through credits are now paid attention to, the threads of the movie machine are recognized, and the history of movies has a spotlight shining down on it. It is this new world that these trees were created.
Names of people have always run through my mind, regardless of not knowing anything about them. I recall seeing pictures of Josephine Baker and knew she had quite an influence but on what I had no idea. Her name kept popping in my head and with glee I began research.
Now I am in awe.
Her place in life was boundless. Her beginnings were full of reasons not to become anything. Yet within these meager beginnings, she emerged to rule dance halls, rule Harlem Renaissance, to cross countries and influence a Europe that was beginning its rule in Art Deco. She was in the midst of Folies Bergeres.
That wasn't the only side of this amazing woman.
Josephine Baker stood in her beliefs to aid in going against the Nazis. Her success as a performer aided the war effort; so much so that her adopted country of France bestowed many awards on her and full French military honors at her funeral.
Her sexuality wasn't within bounds, either. She lived fully and without apologies, rising while the world around her were exposed to something they had never seen before. She performed with zest, lived life on her terms and her influence remains without bounds.
Marlene is another woman who lived life on her own terms. The movie machine of the early 20th century is known for ruling every aspect of the life of one of their contract players, but Marlene made her movies and became a glamourous movie star in her way. Her legacy remains as a person who embraced both male and female sides of her personality and didn't apologise for it.
Marlene Dietrich also supported the anti-Nazi war effort and was recognized from both the United States and France. In doing so, she received alot of backlash from her home of Germany.
Her daughter's book lovingly sits on my bookshelf and I adore delving back into the many facets of her life. She died in Paris, a month before I graduated high school. How I wish now that I paid more attention back then to the women who would have such an influence.
When I started these trees, I never knew the many coincidences between these two women. Until I began writing did I see how similar they lived their lives. Their affect on me came from completely different corners but now I see the common thread that invisibly drew me to them.
Isn't it interesting what life brings to you and only unveils itself when you sit down to look?
Pausing in this hectic life to see the path that brought these trees to life, to see the immense influence Professor Vaughan Frederick still has on my daily life, and to witness the result of the richness that surrounds each and every one of us is awesome.
And I wish each and every person that they have a Vaughan in their life.