When it comes to adding to the landscape of black history, it’s one thing to talk the talk and another to walk the walk. Jurnee Smollett-Bell is doing both. Yesterday the actress kicked off her month long national tour with Macy’s in celebration of Black History Month. Jurnee, personality/actor Terrance J and singer Monica Brown hit up Macy’s Herald Square in New York. The trio participated in a panel hosted by Fashion Editor of Essence Magazine, Joio Thorpe, to chat about the next wave of African American cultural luminaries and tastemakers.
In an interview with the fashion chain, Jurnee shared about her heritage and how important activism is to her. Check out a few excepts below.
What do you love most about your heritage?
“I have a complex heritage: my mom is African American and my dad is Jewish. Both were activists and they met during the movement in the ’70s. I’ve always been proud that I come from people who were activists, who have this indomitable spirit. I am proud to have inherited the spirit of resistance and revolution.”
What’s the one thing you’ve learned from your grandparents or parents that you carry with you?
“My parents were activists, my grandparents were activists. They taught me to not compromise my values and morals, to not place a price tag on your art.”
Who’s your favorite person from history and why?
“I can’t pick a favorite but I have to say I’ve always been heavily influenced by intellectuals, writers and activists. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are heroes of mine. And the writings of Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes and Richard Wright have stimulated me and expanded my mind greatly—constantly challenging me and making me think greater about who I am.”
Jurnee’s next stop will be this evening at Macy’s City Center in Philadelphia. Monica will be joining her again and with any $25 Macy’s purchase made the day of the event you can receive a copy of her new album “CODE RED” (while supplies last)!
See the full schedule for Jurnee’s Macy’s appearance for the remainder of February here.