High school sweethearts Karega Bailey & Dr. Felicia Gangloff-Bailey have a Black love story that has weathered storms and lent warmth to others. Their union was even featured on an episode of the TV show “Black Love” on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Since graduating from Hampton University together, the two have created a legacy of empowerment and healing with initiatives like their group SOL Development.
Together, Karega and Felicia have each done their own work to ultimately reach their goal of mentoring high school students and creating pipelines for social emotional support and college access. After graduating from Hampton, Karega accepted a leadership position as the Dean of Students at Maya Angelou Public Charter High School. Felicia also focused on youth social emotional development and achievement motivation by pursuing a PhD in Educational Psychology at Howard University. The two married in 2012, and have since helped launch a performing arts social justice school aptly named Roses in Concrete Community School.
It’s true that within the darkest hours comes true strength. Just as things seemed to be coming together, the South Sacramento couple had their biggest challenge yet. “We always say, we’ve been blessed with a beautiful life, not an easy one,” said the couple. After a radiant 41 weeks of pregnancy, the two became Angel Parents to a beautiful #BabyBaileyGirl named Kamaiu SOL. The term Angel Parenthood describes parenthood after the loss of a child often through the experience of neonatal loss, but definitely not limited to the neonatal spectrum. It can also include the loss of an infant, young child or even an adult child.
“Since Kamaiu’s birth and double transition, our aim is to create a grief processing reference point, documented through multidimensional storytelling for parents who have experienced the transition of their children and the double transition of their child through the experience of neonatal loss. Although we acknowledge that grief is tremendously complex and difficult to experience, we also believe grief is sacred. Thus by honoring the stories of those experiencing grief, we have the potential to radically connect the deepest parts of our humanity. Grief gives us access to a very special part of hearts, the part of us that has the power to love what our eyes cannot see and arms cannot hold. Grief is love and right now it is abundant.”
The couple still fondly remembers their blessing, and she is honored in all they do. In fact, the couple shared that watching baby Kamaiu’s story appear on national television as a part of Black Love’s first ever 1 hour special as one of their proudest moments. They bared even more of how this affected them in the episode’s after-show conversation. And although they had just experienced loss, the couple found strength to do more work. Initially, they had been working as a couple to write their SOL Affirmations book during the pregnancy.
“SOL Affirmations is a collection of affirmations and manifestations gathered with the sacred intention of helping us to remember our goodness… when we experienced the devastating passing of our daughter during birth, a friend of ours brought a copy of the book to us in this hospital. Though I didn’t feel like reading it then, once I opened it, the truths it contained were irrefutable. This prompted our conviction to finish the SOL Affirmation album we started when we were pregnant…SOL affirmations is a powerful design of words to help us frame the beauty in every difficulty and increase our capacity to explore our hearts and produce the courage to love; to love ourselves, to love one another, to love what challenges us. Each of the affirmations in this collection have been applied through times of great loss and difficulty and have proven to remain true through all seasons of life.”
Their music has resided in the social justice and healing spaces. Now, as an album, they have used SOL Affirmations to heal themselves and others. The affirmations have also been used to assist in healing spaces including their work with BE-IMAGINATIVE, a healing space for mothers who have lost children to gun violence. The couple has encouraging words for anyone struggling with tough times, which we are happy to share below.
“There is not enough darkness in the world to put out the light of even one candle, so never be afraid to let your light shine. And when you feel like life’s hardships are dimming your light, it just may be an invitation into a new dimension of your inner light. Dr. Maya Angelou writes, ‘you may encounter many defeats but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.’“
You can learn more about this remarkable couple and hear their inspirational affirmations album here.