Belvie Rooks is editor and co-author, with Dedan Gills, of I Give You the Springtime of My Blushing Heart: A Poetic Love Song, and she is featured in The Power of Love: A Transformed Heart Changes the World.
Belvie is an essayist, educator and human rights and social justice activist whose work weaves the worlds of spirituality, feminism and, ecology. Meeting Dr. Martin Luther King as a teenager at a weekend high school retreat organized by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) had a profoundly lasting and transformative impact on Belvie’s understanding of and commitment to human and civil rights and social justice. As chairperson of the youth branch of the San Francisco NAACP, she helped organize a sustained weekly picket of the local Woolworth’s in solidarity with SNCC students sit-ins in the South. During the anti-apartheid era and movement, Belvie was one of the first two women on the National Steering Committee of the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC). She was also one of the organizers of the 6th Pan-African Congress held in Tanzania. Later as Associate Director of the Third World Fund, which began at Glide Church, she traveled frequently to UN and OAU sponsored anti-apartheid meetings in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Nigeria. In that connection, she was the principal organizer of the Zimbabwe Medical Campaign which successfully raised over $250,000 in medical supplies, clothing and equipment for Zimbabwean Refugees. Her anti-apartheid organizing and efforts and those of Third World Fund director, Ida Strickland, are referenced in the book about the US anti-apartheid movement, No Easy Victories. She was honored to serve as an election monitor during the transition to majority rule in South African and to later attend Nelson Mandela’s historic inauguration as South Africa’s President. Along with then Assemblywomen Maxine Waters, who served as the Southern California chairperson of TransAfrica, Belvie was invited by TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson to serve as the Northern California chairperson of TransAfrica. She was also honored to be part of one of the first US solidarity delegations invited to Mozambique by Samora Machel and the newly independent government to celebrate the end of 500 years of Portuguese colonial rule.
As an educator, Belvie was a member of the founding faculty of the College of Social Justice at the State University of New York (SUNY) Old Westbury, and is the creator of Hey Listen Up: A Sense of Self-A Sense of Place, a groundbreaking multimedia urban eco-literacy project featured as part of the Educational Series for Journey of the Universe. She served as creator and host of ConverZations That Matter, a series featuring thought leaders and innovative thinkers from around the globe. Belvie has served on the Boards of Bioneers, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and the Institute for Noetic Sciences. She has also served as Core Faculty at Holy Names University’s Sophia Center Program in Culture and Spirituality and Visiting Faculty at Naropa University’s Graduate Program in Environmental Studies. She was a founding staff member of Wild Trees Press, co-founded by Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker. As an essayist, her published works have appeared in many publications and anthologies including: Sacred Poems and Prayers in Praise of Life; The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult; My Soul is a Witness: African American Women’s Spirituality; Life Notes: Personal Writings by Black Women; Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine; Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart; Ecological and Social Healing: Multicultural Women’s Voices. She is an American Book Award winner as senior editor of Paris Connections: African American Artists in Paris, and co-producer (with Damani Baker and Danny Glover) of the award-winning film, The House on Coco Road (now on Netflix).
She is co-founder with Dedan Gills of Growing a Global Heart. “To plant a tree is to plant hope.” Both Belvie and Dedan have essays in Global Chorus, 365 Voices on the Future of the Planet, an anthology that includes Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, the Dalai Lama, Jane Goodall, and others.
(Photo of Belvie by Sharon Garner.)
Read her reflection on her encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Leading with the Heart.”
Watch THE REDEMPTION PROJECT a CNN Original Series with Van Jones, and Belvie as contributor, on Sunday p.m., beginning April 29, 2020.
Listen to her talk, “From Slavery to Stardust: What Would Healing Look Like?” on Bioneers Radio Series.
See her at Spirit Rock Insight Meditation Center, for “Loving the Earth” conference.