Black Women Bloggers in Europe Series – Denmark – Black Girl on Mars

There are some great blogs by Black Women in Europe out there so I decided to start a series highlighting them.

I am launching the series by highlighting the Blackgirl on Mars blog. Lesley is from the US/Caribbean and resides in Copenhagen. She’s an excellent writer and poet. Here is a brief description of her in her own words:

I’m rooted in Brooklyn (Flatbush Ave) & Trinidad & Tobago & the whole world. I’ve lived in Trinidad, Brooklyn, New York City, Maui and now Copenhagen. I have over 18 years of writing and NYC Publishing experience.My writing has appeared in the Source, Vibe Magazine and a few anthologies, including “Expat:Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad” & “In Defense of Mumia”. I’ve interviewed Daddy-O;Savion Glover; Kara Walker; Gary Simmons;Lady Saw and Paul Beatty among others. I have read my work throughout NYC and Copenhagen and was invited as a guest performer for Women in Film and Television’s 2007 Award Ceremony. I also translate from Danish to English and have translated for the award-winning documentary Enemies of Happiness and have published here in Denmark as well. I am currently working on too many things to mention, not least of all, my life.

From Sweden to Brussels to Denver?

I am heading to the Democrats Abroad (DA) Europe, Middle East and Africa Regional Caucus today in Brussels.

Among other issues 4 Obama delegates will be chosen who will attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver in August. Additional delegtes will be chosen at other DA caucuses.

The Obama campaign has approved my application to be a delegate. Now I have to convince my peers to send me. Tomorrow I will have between 1-2 minutes to say why I should go to Denver.

Can I go to Denver? Yes I Can!

Stay tuned.

Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen

photographer Guri Dahl

Norway’s Minister of Children and Equality

Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen is a Norwegian politician belonging to the Norwegian Labour Party. She was appointed minister of Children and Equality Affairs in the second cabinet Stoltenberg at October 18, 2007. She is the first minority member of the Norwegian Cabinet. Ramin-Osmundsen came to Norway in 1991, and became a Norwegian citizen early October 2007. She is a Candidate of Law from Pantheon-Assas Paris II University in France.


Born: 15.07.1963

Family: Married, 3 children

1994 – 1995 Postgraduate courses in special education (Norway)
1987 French bar exam, Universite de la Sorbonne, Paris
1986 Cand.Jur. (Matrise de Droit Prive), Universit?? de Paris II, Assas

2007 Head of Public Sector Recruitment, Manpower Professional Executive
2006???2007 Project head, international migration and development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2006 Director, Norwegian Directorate of Immigration
2002 – 2006 Deputy Director, Norwegian Directorate of Immigration
1998 – 2002 Managing Director, Centre for Combating Ethnic Discrimination (SMED)
1998 Project head, establishment of SMED, Ministry of Local Government
1995???1998 Higher Executive Officer/Adviser, Norwegian Directorate of Immigration
1993???1995 Higher Executive Officer, Norwegian Board of Health Supervision
1992 EU Adviser (part-time), STABELL law firm, Oslo
1988 – 1991 Work experience in France; internship at the European Commission (Brussels)

2001 ??? 2002 Member of working group on racially-motivated offences
2001 – 2002 Member of committee on the Immigration Act
1999 – 2000 Member of committee on law of citizenship

2005 – 2007 Board member, the Norwegian Red Cross
2005 – 2007 Board member, regional health authority for Eastern Norway
2001 – 2004 Board member, Norwegian Refugee Council
2000 – 2005 Member of ethics committee, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise
1997 – 2002 Board member, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee
2007 Board member, Oslo Workers Society

Norwegian, French, English

Read her speeches and articles.

Brief Look At Swedish Pop Group Afro-Dite

F??rglada, meriterade och folkk??ra tog vi dem i v??ra hj??rtan.

Colorful, well known and loved by their audience we took them to our hearts.

If??rda glittriga kl??nningar vann denna glamour??sa grupp Melodifestivalen 2002 med “Never Let It Go”, den f??rsta engelskspr??kiga vinnaren i den svenska finalen. Kl??derna kom att skapa ett nytt ord p?? de svenska l??psedlarna; “Nakenchock”.

In glittering robes the glamourous group won the Swedish song contest 2002 with ???Never let it go???, the first English spoken song to win the Swedish song contest final. The clothes created the word nudity shock on the Swedish headlines.

Under v??ren samma ??r s??lde singeln platina och var d?? ??ven den b??sta s??ljande singeln i Sverige. I Eurovision Song Contest i Tallinn var de storfavoriter, men kom bara p?? ??ttonde plats. Ett album har hittills sl??ppts, “Never Let It Go”, som n??dde h??gt p?? f??rs??ljningslistan i Sverige. Fr??n albumet har gruppen ??ven sl??ppt singlarna “Rivers Of Joy” och “Turn It Up”.

That same spring the single sold to platinum status and was the best selling single in Sweden. In the Eurovision song contest in Tallin they were favorites, but only became number 8. So far one album has been released, ???Never let it go??? wich sold very well in Sweden. From that album they also released the singles ???Rivers of Joy??? and ???turn it up???.

Afro-Dites medlemmar members ??r Kayo Shekoni, Blossom Tainton-Lindquist och Gladys
del Pilar. Alla tre hade framg??ngsrika solokarri??rer innan de bildade gruppen.

All three of them had successful solo careers before they formed the group.

2003 var Afro-Dite ??terigen sugna p?? att representera Sverige i ESC och st??llde upp i Melodifestivalen med l??ten “Aqua Playa”. Gruppen gick till final i Globen, men slutade d??r p?? sjunde plats. Ganska snart efter detta nederlag valde gruppmedlemmarna att arbeta mer skilda. Blossom blev programledare p?? TV och Gladys gjorde ett solof??rs??k i 2004 ??rs Melodifestival med “Baby, I Can’t Stop”.

2003 AfroDite again wanted to represent Sweden in the ESC and entered the song contest with the song ???Aqua Playa???. They made it to the Swedish final but ended as number 7. Soon thereafter this defeat they returned to their solocareers. Blossom became a TV hostess and Gladys made another attempt to win the Swedish song contest with ???Baby I cant stop???.

2005 var Kayo programledare f??r en av delfinalerna Melodifestivalen och i samma program stod hon tillsammans med Blossom och Gladys ??ter p?? scenen som pausunderh??llning.

2005 Kayo hosted one of the Swedish semi-finals and during that show the group sang their songs during the breaks.


Mattiwilda Dobbs: Legendary Opera Singer and my friend Florie’s aunt

My long lost friend Florie told me that her aunt is an opera singer, but I could never remember her name. Just a while ago my friend Angela shared an article with me about the first graduating class of 10 black women to from Harvard Law School, of which she was one. In that article Angela discovers her Harvard classsmate’s book on Black Expatriates. In that book she sees an entry on Mattiwilda Dobbs whom she remembers as their classmate’s godmother.

When I researched Mattiwilda Dobbs I realised that she is my long lost friend Florie’s aunt, the opera singer I had been told about many years before! Here’s a brief look at her ground breaking life.

Mattiwilda Dobbs has sung in virtually every major concert hall in the United States and abroad, with her sparkling voice thrilling audiences and astounding critics. She is considered to be one of the great coloratura sopranos of our time. With a career that has taken her to every corner of the earth and onto stages of the great opera houses of the world, including the Bolshoi Opera, the Vienna State Opera, Glyndebourne, the Paris Opera, and the Stockholm Royal Opera, she often broke color barriers. Her 1953 debut at La Scala as Elvira in Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri marked the first time a black artist ever sang in that famed opera house. That same year her great success as Zorbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos at Glyndebourne resulted in her first major performance in New York with the Little Orchestra Society. Dobbs desegregated the San Francisco Opera Company two years later. The following year she became the first black soprano to sing at the Metropolitan Opera House and the first black female to sing regularly under contract with that house. Her debut as Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto followed Marian Anderson’s and Robert McFerrin’s barrier-breaking debuts by one year.

Born in Atlanta, Ms. Dobbs sang her first solo at age six, and began her musical studies in piano one year later. She began her formal voice training under the tutelage of Naomi Maise and Willis Laurence James at Spelman College where she graduated valedictorian. Upon graduation Ms. Dobbs traveled to New York to study with Lotte Leonard. While in New York, she was granted a Marian Anderson Award as well as scholarships to the Mannes Music School and to the Opera Workshop at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. She also won a John Hay Whitney Fellowship and used the grant to study French repertoire in Paris for two years with Pierre Bernac, and to coach Spanish repertoire with Lola Rodriques de Aragon in Spain.

In addition to these awards, Ms. Dobbs won the coveted first prize at the International Music Competition in Geneva over hundreds of other singers from four continents. Shortly afterwards, her international career took off with her debut in Amsterdam with the Netherlands Opera, followed by engagements in Paris, London, Vienna, Stockholm, and Milan. Numerous engagements followed, including and invitation to sing a command performance before Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, and visiting King Gustave and Queen Louise of Sweden at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Following the performance she was decorated with the Order of the North Star by King Gustave. Her list of festival appearances is also extensive, including the Edinburgh Festival, Perth (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), and the Caramoor, Meadow Brook, and Grant Park Festivals in the United States. In Russia, Japan, Australia, Israel, South America, Mexico, Scandinavia, the United States, and all of Europe, she became a favorite with the opera and concert goers and critics.


Although she remained close to her family and performed in Atlanta several times, personal as well as professional considerations prevented Dobbs from making the city her home. She lived in Spain with her first husband, Luis Rodriguez, who died of a liver ailment in June 1954, fourteen months after their wedding. She then married Bengt Janzon, a Swedish newspaperman, just before Christmas 1957. Her family attended the wedding, but because of the stir an interracial marriage would have caused in the segregated South, the ceremony was held in New York, and the new couple made their home in Sweden. Bengt Janzon did not visit Atlanta until 1967.

Following the example set by African American performer and activist Paul Robeson, Dobbs refused to perform for segregated audiences. In Atlanta she could have performed in African American churches or colleges, but she was not able to perform for a large integrated audience until the Atlanta City Auditorium was desegregated in 1962, when she was joined onstage and given a key to the city by Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. It was the first of many performances in her home city. Before the organization of the Atlanta Opera in 1985, Dobbs performed in operas produced and directed by the acclaimed opera singer Blanche Thebom, and in 1974 she sang at the gala marking the inauguration of her nephew Maynard Jackson as mayor of Atlanta.

In 1974, after retiring from the stage, Dobbs began a teaching career at the University of Texas, where she was the first African American artist on the faculty. She spent the 1974-75 school year as artist-in-residence at Spelman College, giving recitals and teaching master classes. In 1979 Spelman awarded honorary doctorates to both Dobbs and Marian Anderson.

Dobbs continued her teaching career as professor of voice at Howard University, in Washington, D.C. She served on the board of the Metropolitan Opera and on the National Endowment of the Arts Solo Recital Panel. Dobbs continued to give recitals until as late as 1990 before retiring to Arlington, Virginia, where she currently resides.


Gloria Ray Karlmark-Little Rock 9 trailblazer-Swedish resident-Meet her on the 13th in Stockholm

Lucia Day Luncheon – December 13, 2007

with Emily Samson Tepe

11:45 a.m.-2 p.m.

Stockholm Grand Hotel, Hall of Mirrors

Special Guest – Gloria Ray Karlmark

Just before Christmas, Lucia comes to light up the long Swedish winter nights. Enjoy this bright and beautiful Lucia Day celebration in the elegant setting of the Grand Hotel???s Hall of Mirrors. Gloria Ray Karlmark, one of the members of the Little Rock Nine , will be our guest speaker and will tell us of the foundation she and ???The Nine??? have established, providing educational scholarships to lower-income children in America. She will also share with us her lifetime of work promoting positive race relations in the US, and her perspectives on Sweden. This will be followed by a traditional Lucia candlelight ceremony with the Emily Samson Tepe.

Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King are household names in the US for their roles in America???s Civil Rights movement. Less-known but equally important are the Little Rock Nine : 9 black high school kids who gained national attention in 1957 by challenging the South???s segregation of schools when they entered all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Forty years later, the Nine were honoured at the White House by President Bill Clinton, each receiving the highest award a non-military citizen can receive, the Congressional Gold Medal. Now, fifty years later, you have an opportunity to hear one of the Little Rock Nine speak at this year???s American Club Lucia Luncheon!

Gloria Ray Karlmark has lived in Sweden nearly 40 years, working throughout Europe for IBM and serving 15 years as Editor In Chief for the Computers in Industry journal, which she co-founded in 1976.

Fresh back from the US where she and her 8 colleagues commemorated the 50-year anniversary of that fateful day they walked through the gates of Central High School and into the history books, Gloria Ray Karlmark will tell us of the foundation she and ???The Nine??? have established, providing educational scholarships to lower-income kids in America. She will also share with us her lifetime of work promoting positive race relations in the US, and also of her perspectives on Sweden.

Do not miss this unique opportunity to hear one of America???s foremost Civil Rights pioneers!

11:45 a.m. Registration in Str??msalongerna and gl??gg and pepparkakor in the Vapensalen

12:00 p.m. Lucia luncheon in the Spegelsalen (Hall of Mirrors) with:

Speaker: Gloria Ray Karlmark
Lottery drawing
Music: Emily Samson Tepe

2:00 p.m. Luncheon concludes

DATE: Thursday, December 13, 2007

TIME: 11:45 a.m. ??? 2:00 p.m.

PLACE: Grand Hotel, Hall of Mirrors

COST: SEK 450:- per member before December 4; SEK 500:- thereafter. Members may bring one guest at the member price. SEK 575:- per non-member or additional guests. SEK 5000:- per table of 10 (4500:- if before December 4th)

RESERVATION AND PAYMENT: Reservation and payment no later than December 8. Reservations to Lucia Luncheon: email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call Mike at 073 714 8789. Then, send payment to Bankgiro 5473-6830. Write ???Lucia Luncheon??? and print legibly the names of the participants. Space is limited – first come, first served. Reservations are binding after December 8.

Space is limited – Book early!

Cancellations must be made no later than 5 p.m. Friday, December 8, 2006. Reservations are binding thereafter.