culture coop

The Extraordinary Ordinary: Sandy Lynne Holman

[Originally published October 7, 2015]

By Jennifer Ann Gordon, Repower Yolo's Storyteller

Sandy Lynne Holman lets her light shine brightly. A Davis resident and UCD alumna, Sandy is on a mission to “encourage people to love themselves and others, and share power and resources in the world.”

Regionally and nationally recognized as a leader in social justice, equity, and “anti-hate” programs, talks, workshops and children’s literature, Sandy founded and directs The Culture C.O.-O.P. and United In Unity. She has given keynote addresses, served on boards, consulted with diverse organizations, and won numerous awards. Most recently, she was donned the John Garamendi Woman of the Year 2015 award. “The awards have been overwhelming and are valuable because they draw attention to the tough work I have to do,” she said. “We are living in a world where our ability to work together is critical. A cornerstone of success is understanding and serving diverse people. We become more effective when we understand cultural differences and similarities.”  

There is nothing theoretical about Sandy or her work. She practices what she calls “active research,” where social theory is matched with practical application. She goes into the trenches daily…shoulder-to-shoulder, vis-à-vis, hand-in-hand, and heart-to-heart, with the people who need her most. Battling entrenched beliefs and hatred can be brutal work, but her faith and love sustain her.

Her book, Grandpa, Is Everything Black Bad?, which won the Blackboard Book of the Year Award in 2002, continues to be a favorite throughout the world. Sandy’s grandfather, Rufus X. Holman, helped shape her future. "He left me over 100 poems that he wrote, which were absolutely beautiful and historic, written over a 50-year span," she said. "I had an incredibly close relationship with my grandfather and I saw him pretty regularly through my teen years. He was a talented and wise person. He only had a third grade education, but he continued to read throughout his life and learn as much as he could. I was transfixed by him. He taught me a lot about loving yourself and honoring your history and culture and heritage, and so I grew up not having a lot of the self-esteem issues that a lot of my peers did.”

She has been honored alongside Al Gore, Quincy Jones, and other notable authors for her work in Multi-Cultural Children's Literature at Book Expo in New York. She was the only self-published author ever to win the award, primarily because she didn’t know that self-publishers couldn’t enter. Sandy lets nothing hold her back, and the world and our community are the beneficiaries.

Her next round of children’s stories –Love Is The Root Of All People. Honor Your Elders, Peace Is For People, and You Ain't Dressed Until You Got Your Hat On—is forthcoming. Publishers frequently approach Sandy about her books, but she prefers to be self-published and set up her own publishing company. Sandy gives workshops on self-publishing, as well.

Purple is Sandy’s signature color. “I love purple! When I wear it, it makes me happy. People ask me about all the purple I wear. It opens doors. I decided to do the things that make me happy…the things that make me ecstatic,” she said. An artist, poet, author, speaker, educator, consultant and citizen of the world, Sandy said, “Everyone is a V.I.P. We need to treat everyone like a king or queen.”

Sandy Lynne Holman, thank you for uniting, fortifying and educating us all. Thank you for your generous heart, your clear mind, and your bountiful contributions to peace, equity, and love on earth. Thank you for teaching our children and our teachers to appreciate, accept and celebrate diversity. You are a purple wonder. Thank you for being so extraordinary.