A Writing Conversation:

Welcome Baba Jamal, and everyone else, to A Writing Conversation Episode 2. Today we are interviewing Baba Jamal Koram story teller extraordinaire who is currently involved in the development of the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum. Our discussion begins...

Virginia: My children and I have always enjoyed your stories. Your stories are so engaging. Some of them we have enjoyed over and over again, thanks to tapes and CDs. What components do you think are critical to have in a story?

Jamal: The critical component of a story is what is being “passed on” to the listeners. There is so much to a story: who, what, and where in the beginning; action, activity, and dilemma in the middle; resolution, lesson, encouragement, and enlightenment in the end. Hopefully the enlightenment and encouragement is ongoing.

Virginia: I have found your stories inspiring, especially about basketball and growing up. You are so great with kids, well, people in general.

Jamal: I believe in keeping the watoto smilin'. Let children ask questions. Let them tell us how they see things unfold, and then tell the stories that reinforce their learning, and assist in retaining the visions they see and the learning they have received.

Virginia: Can you tell us a little more about the Benjamin Banneker project?

Jamal: I am proud to have my name and the involvement of storytelling in the development of the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum! I remember when we broke ground for the building of the museum, it rained hard. A good sign. A good number of folks showed up, umbrellas and all. I was scheduled to tell a ten minute story. I was the last one on the agenda - - after ten or more politicians and preachers! By the time my turn came, I was told I had two minutes to speak! So I did what the Spirit said do. . .I took my ten minutes to tell a "Ben Jah Men story!" lol (Remembering Col. Pennington and others whose names escape me right now, who had put time and energy into making the park a reality. Ashe! Amen.) Please take time to visit the park and be a part of the events at this wonderful space near Oella, MD.

Virginia: A museum dedicated to telling the inspiring story of Benjamin Banneker sounds wonderful, I look forward to visiting it with my husband. Thank you for all the encouraging and delightful stories you've shared with us over the years. Thank you also for taking time to respond to my question about what components you believe are critical to include in storytelling.