Glenda R. Taylor is a writer, editor, poet, organization and Community development specialist, philanthropist, and cultural historian who has an extensive knowledge of American history as it relates to African-American history and culture. The author of ten books, Taylor has been featured in The New York Times for her exhibits on American history and culture and in 2010, she was selected by the New York Daily News as one of America’s Great People.
Strategies of Social Justice
Glenda R. Taylor was born in Brooklyn, New York. Best known for her pioneering work with philanthropic organizations, Taylor has authored proposals that have resulted in funding of over $50 million. As Deputy Executive Director of Urban Strategies (said by the Ford Foundation in 1990 to be one of the fastest growing non-profit organizations in the country), Taylor’s creative genius and administrative acumen catapulted the organization into a multi-million dollar corporation consisting of shelters, daycare centers, educational programs, and apartment buildings. She supervised a staff of over two hundred and fifty employees. She was exceptional at everything from strategic planning to management to acting as comptroller responsible for overseeing government fiscal and programmatic audits. Her astute ability to recognize human potential and provide tutelage to those under her supervision has resulted in the development of numerous leaders and has had impact upon tens of thousands of lives in the tri-state area.
Taylor is the founder of Olympic Vision, a human services organization, which has provided over 5,000 youth and adults with educational, job placement, mental health and social services. She is a proponent of the John Dewey philosophy that emphasizes the importance of experiential education. She developed many innovative, interactive educational programs that taught both youth and adults how to become gainfully employed, develop a meaningful career and fulfill their long-term goals. These programs included extraordinary courses in television production (designed and taught by the legendary broadcast journalist Kae Thompson. Computer technology, writing, publishing, entrepreneurship and the art of being an equestrian were other courses taught at Olympic Vision.
Taylor organized seminars and forums in which business and entertainment industry executives, bankers, educators and writers such as Walter Mosley, Elizabeth Nunez, Wayne Edwards and Bebe Moore Campbell interacted with economically disadvantaged youth and adults. Olympic Vision students participated in the marketing of the National Black Writers Conference, and they assisted in the coordination of a major art exhibit by acclaimed artist, Izell Glover. These forums opened many doors and provided the participants access to employment and educational opportunities. Students were placed on internships which resulted in full-time employment in the City University of New York, Columbia University and other institutions and businesses in the tri-state area. Currently, Olympic Vision focuses on providing supportive services to community based organizations, small businesses and artists.
Exhibitions (1999 – 2007)
Taylor minored in art and learned art history as an undergraduate. She has had an interest in African art and artifacts since she studied in Africa as a teenager. Her love for art, art history and American memorabilia led to her coordinating over 200 exhibitions in Harlem, New York for the community and hundreds of tourists from around the world. She used her wealth of knowledge to assist museum curators and collectors with defining their goals and refining their collections into investment grade, museum-quality art and antiques. Taylor wanted everyone to learn history by experiencing its wealth. In the tradition of experiential education, Taylor’s exhibitions brought to life and made available fine art, antique furniture, hand blown glass, sculptures, jewelry, comedy recordings and films of the early twentieth century, pre-Civil war artifacts such as slave shackles and documents, rare and autographed books and unusual artifacts from every continent. The exhibits were free of charge, so all could afford the experience.
Scholars, collectors, tourists, community residents-the elders and the youth, historians, educators, artists, photographers, filmmakers, interior decorators and fashion designers, engineers, law enforcement officers, veterans, architects, social workers, casting directors, costume designers and writers all viewed the exhibits and joined in the community discourse on race, class, poverty, entertainment, current events, the arts, history, politics, and the responsibility of the individual to use his rights as an American to create social justice. The exhibitions included, but were not limited to: A Century Of Murano Glass, American Art: 1900s – 1950s, African American art: 1970s, African American Memorabilia: 1890-1950, American Furniture: Heywood Wakefield, the Art of McCoy, Amberina Glass, American Pottery, Art Deco: The Lighting Fixtures, Art Deco: The Furniture, Beer Steins: Around the World, China: Wedgwood & Lenox, Coins From Around The World, Collectible Tea Pots, Figurines From The Orient, Glass As An Art Form 1900s – 1950s, The Art of Glass In Blue, The Art of Glass In Green, The Art of Glass In Red, The Beauty Of Depression Glass, The Crystal Of Waterford, The Diversity of Milk Glass, African Art: Ceremonial Art, African Art: The Masks of West Africa, African Art: The Dogon People, African Art: The Punu People, African Art: Hats, Masks & Scepters, African Bronze: Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon, African Jewelry, African Sculpture, Ancient Art from Mali, Ancient Terracotta Before the Christian Error, Benin Art, Blades Of Ghana and Gabon, Dan Masks, Dogon Art, Christianity in Ethiopia, Ethiopia: The World’s First Christian Country, Ethiopian Art, Ethiopian Religious Icons, Ethiopian Coptic Crosses, Ethiopian Crosses, Gods and Goddesses In African Art, Haile Selassie: An Ethiopian Emperor and Ibeji Art.
The exhibits were shown at Aunt Meriams in Harlem, New York on 125th Street in the heart of the commercial district, only a few blocks from the legendary Apollo Theatre, Sylvia’s Restaurant and the State Office building located on Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard. Some called the location an antique shop. Others said it was a museum. The community considered it a salon in which they could discuss history, politics and the future of the African American community. Taylor regarded the exhibits as an opportunity to educate the public through art and create a forum, a public discourse on how the lessons of history can elevate public consciousness. Taylor and her staff provided individualized tours that gave everyone the opportunity to understand and embrace an often painful past of both oppression and victory.
Taylor is pursuing her doctorate in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in American history & culture. She is attending Union Institute & University which has a strong tradition of encouraging students to engage in socially relevant and innovative research projects. Taylor immersed herself in the intellectual community at Union Institute & University and studied under scholars such as: Diane Allerdyce, Shelley Armitage, Katherine Buntoff, Joshua Butts, Elden Golden, Toni Gregory, Norma Jenks, Tony Kashani, Linda Klonsky, Coleen O’Brien, Karsten Piep, Susan Dente Ross, Andrea Scarpino, John R. Shook, Christopher Voparil and David Whitfield.
Taylor successfully passed her Comprehensive Examination in August of 2013. She has obtained the status of Ph.D. (ABD). Taylor is currently working on her dissertation which examines creativity, the creative process, African American cultural traditions and how African American artists have used their art forms to promote social justice. Her dissertation committee consists of distinguished scholars and educators: Diane Allerdyce, Loree Miltich, Woden Teachout and Michael Raffanti.
Taylor received her Master of Arts degree in History and Culture from Union Institute and University. She conducted research on how the African American female entertainer uses autobiographies and the oral tradition to act as cultural historian/griottes/jalimusos and record American history. She shows how their autobiographies preserve perspectives that have been discarded and/or minimalized. Entertainers such as Lena Horne, Marion Anderson, Nina Simone, Katherine Dunham, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Eartha Kitt Cissy Houston and Josephine Baker were a part of her research. Taylor proves that their autobiographies record significant data on early 20th century American history. Her research, The Jalimuso’s Drum was published in 2011.
Taylor obtained her undergraduate degree in English from Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. She, also, studied at the University of Ghana Institute of African Studies in Accra, Ghana, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana and Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.
Awards & Honors
Called a visionary by the New York Daily Challenge, Taylor has received a Certificate for Outstanding Service to Youth from the New York State Division for Youth, and is one of the first recipients of the Network Journal’s 25 Most Influential Women In Business Award. Taylor was also honored with the Harriett Tubman Award for her phenomenal contribution to the non-profit sector.
Taylor is the editor of The Secrets of Success: Quotations by African American Achievers and co-editor (with Mary J. Taylor) of Truth Beyond Illusion: African American Women 1860s -1950s and The Secrets of Success: The Black Man’s Perspective. She is the author of three volumes of poetry titled: Blind Light, Black America Cried and Michael “Little Joe” Jackson (1958-2009): An American Master. The Jalimuso’s Drum and Waves of Consciousness are two of her most thought provoking books. Herstory: Unearthing An American Past and Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’: Michael Jackson - A Social Activist? will be released in 2015.
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’: Michael Jackson - A Social Activist? New York: Scholars of the African Diaspora Press (Release date 6/1/2015).
Herstory: Unearthing An American Past . New York: Scholars of the African Diaspora Press (Release date 9/1/2015).
Michael “Little Joe” Jackson (1958-2009): An American Master (ISBN: 978-0-9825540-3-6). New York: AMH Publishers, 2014.
Waves of Consciousness (ISBN: 978-0-9825540-5-0). New York: AMH Publishers, 2014.
Black America Cried (ISBN: 978-0-9825540-4-3). New York: AMH Publishers, 2013.
The Jalimuso’s Drum: African American Female Entertainers as Cultural Historians (ISBN: 978-0-9825540-2-9). New York: AMH Publishers 2011.
Blind Light (ISBN: 978-0-9825540-0-5). New York: AMH Publishers, 2010.
Truth Beyond Illusion: African American Women 1860s-1950s (ISBN: 978-0-615-28076-9). New York: AMH Publishers, 2009.
The Secrets of Success: The Black Man’s Perspective (ISBN: 09662142-1-8). New York: OV Publishers, 1999.
The Secrets of Success: Quotations by African American Achievers (ISBN: 0-9662142-0-X). New York: OV Publishers, 1998.
“Exploring The Genius of Ancient Civilizations,” Stand Up Ministry (New York: December 2007)
“Michael Jackson vs. The Presumption of Innocence,” New York Beacon (New York: May, 2004).
“Michael Jackson’s Classics Still Number One,” New York Beacon (New York: January, 2004).
“Music Reviews,” Wyclef Jean, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Ron Isley, Ashanti, etc. Harlem Times (New York: December 2003).
"Fire In Their Eyes.” OV News (New York: April, 1998).
"The Power of One." OV News (New York: April, 1998).
"Touch By The Spirit.” Harlem Overheard (New York: December, 1997).
"Hate Kills." OV News (New York: 1997).
"The Power of Choice.” OV News (New York: 1996).
"Blacks Power And The Fall of The Berlin Wall,” Your Muhammad Speaks (NewYork: 1994).
"The Innocence of Michael Jackson: An Issue of Perception," Your Muhammad Speaks (New York: 1994).
Michael “Little Joe” Jackson (1958-2009): An American Master. New York: AMH Publishers, 2013. (Release date 12/1/2014).
Black America Cried. New York: AMH Publishers, 2013.
Blind Light. New York: AMH Publishers, 2010.
“Tell Me The Secrets.” New York: OV Publishers, 1999).
"Tom Agonistes." The Rambler Papers (New York: MEC Press, Jan/Feb 1975).
"The Genesis of Revelations." The Rambler Papers (New York: MEC Press, Jan/Feb 1975).
Black America Cried. New Jersey: Learning Ally, 2013.
The Jalimuso’s Drum: African American Female Entertainers as Cultural Historians. New Jersey:
RFB Publishers, 2011.
Blind Light. New Jersey: RFB, 2010.
· Richardson, Clem. ”Great People: Blind Poet’s Guiding Light” November 5, 2010.
News/GlendaTaylorMA2010HistoryCultureConcentration.aspx. (Accessed 9/30/2013).
· Ramirez, Anthony. “Black Collectors Hate and Buy Them.” The New York Times,” July 5, 2006.
· “Glenda R. Taylor CEO & Founder, Olympic Vision.” The New York Network Journal, March 1999.
· Edwards, Wayne. “Glenda Taylor Shares ‘The Secrets of Success’.” The New York Daily Challenge, January 25, 1999.
· “Community Calendar: Employment Training Program.” New York Beacon, September, 10, 1998.
· “Education Today: Summer Youth-employment Classes.” The New York Amsterdam News, April 2, 1998.
· “Iyanla Vanzant ‘empowers’ Olympic Vision Staff.” New York Daily Challenge, March 24, 1998.
· “Bebe Moore Campbell Brings Book Tour to New York.” New York Daily Challenge, March 4, 1998.
· “Olympic Vision Co-hosts Reading, Book Signing by Author Walter Mosley.” New York Daily Challenge, November 13, 1997.
“Olympic Vision Hosts 3rd Annual Fundraising Drive for Adult Training.” New York Daily Challenge, August 6, 1996.