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Monique Greenwood

Author, editor and bed & breakfast inn owner Monique Greenwood was born on June 22, 1959 in Washington, D.C. Greenwood attended Howard University where she graduated magna cum laude in 1981 with her B.A. degree in communications. In 1989, Greenwood married Glenn Pogue, a broadcast engineer for WNBC-TV.

Greenwood’s family lived in the Washington, D.C. area for several generations. In the 1920s, her grandfather, Benjamin Greenwood, operated a small grocery store in the southeastern part of the city. He later owned the Greenwood Transfer Moving and Storage Company, a business that was eventually listed as one of the United States top Black owned businesses. Greenwood was inspired by her grandfather’s success. His example proved to her that racial discrimination could not stop a person who had the determination to succeed.

Not long after Greenwood’s graduation from Howard University, she began working at Fairchild Publications. Greenwood stayed at Fairchild for fifteen years; among her achievements at Fairchild was the creation of Children’s Business, which was a monthly trade magazine that provided information about children’s apparel and other products. In 1992, Greenwood published her first book Go On Girl! Book Club Guide to Reading Groups. She was also the co-founder of the Go On Girl! Book Club, which is the largest African American book club in the United States.

In 1995, Greenwood and her husband opened their first Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast in Brooklyn, New York. The following year, she started working at Essence magazine, as a lifestyle and style director, where she stayed for five years. In 2000, Greenwood became editor and chief of Essence magazine. In 2001, Greenwood published Having What Matters: The Black Woman’s Guide to Creating the Life You Really Want. After writing her second book, Greenwood realized what mattered most to her, so she resigned as editor and chief of Essence magazine to pursue her passion for inn keeping.

Along with her husband, Greenwood opened four more Akwaaba Bed & Breakfast Inns in New Jersey (2002, 2006), Washington, D.C. (2003) and New Orleans (2005). Greenwood is working on her third book which will be titled Life Under New Management: How to Fire Your Job and Become Your Own Boss.

Greenwood was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 11, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.286

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/11/2007

Last Name

Greenwood

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Barnard Elementary School

Rabaut Junior High School

Woodrow Wilson High School

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Monique

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

GRE13

Favorite Season

Summer

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Make It Happen.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

6/22/1959

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Shrimp

Short Description

Lodging entrepreneur and magazine lifestyle editor Monique Greenwood (1959 - ) was former editor and chief of Essence Magazine, and the owner of five successful bed and breakfast inns. Greenwood also authored two books, Go On Girl! Book Club Guide to Reading Groups and Having What Matters: The Black Woman's Guide to Creating the Life You Really Want.

Employment

Fairchild Publications

Essence Magazine

Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast Inns

Favorite Color

Black, Sage Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Monique Greenwood's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Monique Greenwood lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Monique Greenwood describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Monique Greenwood describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Monique Greenwood describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Monique Greenwood describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Monique Greenwood describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Monique Greenwood describes her family's moving business, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Monique Greenwood describes her family's moving business, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Monique Greenwood talks about her older brother

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Monique Greenwood lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Monique Greenwood describes her relationship with her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Monique Greenwood describes her early talent for leadership

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Monique Greenwood describes her leadership of her family

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Monique Greenwood describes the holidays with her family

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Monique Greenwood describes her home in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Monique Greenwood remembers the Petworth United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Monique Greenwood remembers writing about fashion

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Monique Greenwood remembers the media of her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Monique Greenwood describes the sights and sounds of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Monique Greenwood remembers Barnard Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Monique Greenwood remembers Rabaut Junior High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Monique Greenwood talks about her interest in fashion

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Monique Greenwood recalls her decision to attend Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Monique Greenwood describes her experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Monique Greenwood remembers Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Monique Greenwood describes her social life in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Monique Greenwood remembers her dreams and aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Monique Greenwood recalls her decision to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Monique Greenwood remembers Howard University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Monique Greenwood recalls working at Fairchild Publications, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Monique Greenwood remembers writing about men's accessories

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Monique Greenwood describes the Children's Business magazine, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Monique Greenwood describes the Children's Business magazine, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Monique Greenwood recalls the diversity committee at Fairchild Publications, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Monique Greenwood remembers founding the Go On Girl! Book Club

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Monique Greenwood describes her book, 'Having What Matters'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Monique Greenwood remembers meeting her husband

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Monique Greenwood remembers dating her husband, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Monique Greenwood remembers dating her husband, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Monique Greenwood describes her wedding

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Monique Greenwood joining the staff of Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Monique Greenwood describes her career at Essence magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Monique Greenwood recalls moving to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Monique Greenwood remembers vacationing in Cape May, New Jersey

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Monique Greenwood recalls her decision to open a bed and breakfast

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Monique Greenwood recalls purchasing the Akwaaba Mansion in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Monique Greenwood talks about the Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast Inns

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Monique Greenwood describes the growth of the Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast Inns

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Monique Greenwood describes her husband's career

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Monique Greenwood describes the locations of the Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast Inns

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Monique Greenwood describes her personal quarters at the Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast Inns

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Monique Greenwood describes the Akwaaba Cafe in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Monique Greenwood talks about her retail properties

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Monique Greenwood describes her involvement in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Monique Greenwood describes the importance of economic empowerment

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Monique Greenwood reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Monique Greenwood talks about her daughter

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Monique Greenwood describes her role models

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Monique Greenwood describes her plans for the Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast Inns

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

6$1

DATitle
Monique Greenwood remembers founding the Go On Girl! Book Club
Monique Greenwood recalls purchasing the Akwaaba Mansion in Brooklyn, New York
Transcript
Did you start the Go On Girl! Book Club at Fairchild [Fairchild Publications, Inc.; Fairchild Fashion Media]?$$Yes.$$Okay. So, let's talk about that a little bit. That started very small with just you and a couple of your friends?$$Yes.$$So--$$So, as I was saying, when I became editor at Children's Business, I hired these amazing black women who worked in other areas of the company, but hadn't really gotten the light that they deserved. And that was Lynda Johnson and Tracy Mitchell [Tracy Mitchell-Brown], so they became on my staff. And we would oftentimes have lunch together, lunch as we worked 'cause, you know, we, we--it was like a staff of five. We worked really hard and over lunch, they would occasionally start talking about a book. And it--or books they were reading, and it turned out that one time the two of them were reading the same book, unbeknownst to each other, so they're going back and forth, wasn't is that great? Did you get to the part? And they're having this whole discussion. I'm sitting there looking left out. And I realized that I really wasn't reading for pleasure, even though it was something I enjoyed doing. I didn't make the time to do it, because, and I, I told them, I'm always reading your copy. I'm reading your--edit, edit your copy. I don't have time to sit around and read, and but they were so into this book. And I was so piqued by it. And I say, what is this book? And I wrote it down, and the book was Steven Corbin's 'No Easy Place to Be.' And it was--I, I just thought, wow, that sounds great, and I went and bought the book. And I tried to read it fast, so I could catch up, and start the conversations with them over lunch. And so, as we did that, we had so much fun around this. We said, you know what, why don't we form a book club? And so, it was like, okay, well, you bring three people, I'll bring three people, you bring three people. Tracy, we'll have it at your house and what, what date was good? And how about next Saturday, whatever, so started very loosely, very informally. We each invited a couple of friends. We went to Tracy's house. She made some banana bread and some tea. And we started talking about what, how we're going to make this book club, and what we're going to do, and what kind of books do we want to read. And, so, very loosely, we said that we wanted to read books by and about African Americans. We said we wanted to read broadly, so we didn't want it to be genre specific. We wanted to read science fiction. We wanted to read autobiographies. We wanted to read fiction, non-fiction--just across the board. And so, we started doing that. And then, as the women in the group started to become mobile and move to different cities, they missed the sisterhood. And that's when it really became, sometimes it was more about what, what we're eating, and what we're talking about, after we talked about the books. That was more significant than talking about the book, so it was just our time. That's what it was really about. It was like, our time. And so, as folks started to move around, they missed that. And so, they would want to organize something similar to it where they were. And she still wanted to be a Go On Girl!, so it was like, okay, so you're going to be the Go On Girl! D.C. chapter [Washington, D.C.], which became our second chapter, which I have roots in, too. So, we say, oh, my sister-in-law wants to join, blah, blah, blah, so we put together a group over there. And this thing just started snowballing. So, we had chapters all across the country, like thirty-two, thirty-two chapters. And we became the nation's largest group of African American readers--book clubs. And we got a lot publicity because this is pre-Oprah's Book Club, and this is really at the height of kind of, you know, that this black book boom after [HistoryMaker] Terry McMillan's success with, with her, with her book, 'Waiting to Exhale,' and so everything has kind of snowballed.$$So, with that organization, is it organic for you to write a guide, to lead others perhaps, to expand from that thirty-two?$$Yeah, I mean, as we started to become this, this entity, and we felt like, we knew how to do it, and everybody kind of wanted to start forming book clubs, it became a very, a very fashionable, just very popular to do. We got approached as the founders--Tracy, Lynda and I--to, to write a guide for other groups that wanted to form. And so, we got approached by an agent, who had already been approached by a publisher. So, it just kind of came to us, and we already had the deal, and it's like okay, write down what you did, write down how you do it. And so, the three of us then, we wrote our first book. Each of us--neither of us had, none of us had ever published a book before and, you know, we were very strategic about who would do what parts. And Tracy, who is probably the most driven reader, the real reader, she did the, the anthologies or the--she would pull out segments from different books by genre. She did that. And Lynda did most of the, the history kind of stuff of book clubs, and how they evolved and all of that. And I did the kind of this is how you do it, set it up this way, how many people can be in it, rotate meetings, have a consistent meeting date, you know, the kind of nuts and bolts of, of making it work. And we put this book together called the 'Go On Girl! Guide to Reading Groups' ['Go on Girl!: Book Club Guide for Reading Groups,' Monique Greenwood, Tracy Mitchell-Brown and Lynda Johnson], and it did very well as a book cl-, as a book. And so, we went from being book readers to book authors.$Yeah, so I, I come to realize how only a bed and breakfast would combine all of my personal passions. And I ride down my street two blocks up, and I see a house that I've sent--seen all the time, but this time with new eyes. I go, "Wow that would be a perfect bed and breakfast." And this house was the house that all the kids in the neighborhood called the haunted house, and you never saw any signs of life. And so I started leaving notes on the door saying, "If you're interested in selling your home, please call, please call." And I would leave these notes on the door for, like a year, and no one ever calls. And, finally, one day, I saw a very unassuming gentleman standing in the yard. And I jumped out of my car, I was so excited, and said, "Do you know anything about this house?" And he says, "I know a lot about this house." And he says, "This is my family's home." And I said, "What? Have you been getting my notes?" He goes, "Yours and everybody else's," you know. I said, "Well, you know, I really, really love this house, and I would love to have it," and told him what I wanted to do. He said to me, "Well, you need to talk to the real estate agent." And just as he said that, the real estate agent was walking up the street. I took it as an omen. I go to the real estate agent. His office is around the corner, and he goes, "Well, you need to come in. We can talk about it in the morning." I said, "What time do you open? I will be there when you open your doors." He said 9:00, I was there at 9:00, went there. "How much is it?" I said, "Okay, ready, where's the contract? Let's do it." And, yeah, called my husband (laughter), I said, "Glenn [Glenn Pogue]," (laughter) and, you know, he's like, "Well, we just finished working on this house." I said, "Well, this is going to be great and--," you know. And he, he went for it. You know, again, very--Glenn's like, "Where, where we going? Just tell me where we're going," easy about stuff for the most part. So, that's how we came to acquire this place [Akwaaba Mansion, Brooklyn, New York]. Took us about nine months to create it as a bed and breakfast. And the strategy at that time was really--there were no hotels in Brooklyn [New York]. And Brooklyn, if it were a city into itself, would be the fourth largest city in the country--no hotels. I kept thinking, this is a no-brainer. We're only going to have four guest rooms--surely, we can fill four guest rooms. And my thought, initially, was that we would house the family and friends of people coming to visit their, their loved ones in this neighborhood, and I thought I would also reach out to the churches because it's like one on every corner. And we could, you know, let the busy body at the church know that we're here, and when folks coming for funerals or for weddings, they would tell them we're here. We can house their, their people, and I would also reach out to the funeral homes and, and give that same message. And that's what I thought we'd say. What I quickly discovered was that the people, who were actually, were not the family and friends of the people who lived here, but the people who lived here. So our first guests were people who lived right here in New York, or came across the bridge or through the tunnel. And they were in towns, and they were just looking to get away without having to go away. Living and working in New York, you know, they just need the high touch and the high tech, high stress world, and so that's who we cater to. People came for their birthdays. They came for their anniversaries. They came to propose. They came for girlfriend weekends, and that's, that was our customer base. It still is a big part of our customer base. However, now that Brooklyn itself has become so popular, a lot of Europeans like to come to Brooklyn 'cause it's the new hot place to be. They want to go to Williamsburg and they want to go Greenpoint, and they want to go to Park Slope. And some even want to discover Bed-Stuy [Bedford-Stuyvesant] right here. And so, we get a lot of folks from Europe and they, obviously, are coming a distance, so they're planning in advance, and they're staying a longer period of time. So a lot of our local people can't really get in anymore 'cause they're doing it spontaneously, going, "Ha, let's go over there. That'd be a fun thing to do as a date this weekend." It's not going to happen because we've been booked--we're booked like a month and half out. And so we are seeing a shift in, you know, the people who actually come, and what they're coming for.