January 19th, 2016
My brother greeted me early this morning via telephone call and an invitation to a day of service. So my day went like this…….
After enjoying a cup of coffee and a warm welcome, the keynote speaker took the stage of the USC Upstate Readiness Center. She was a 30 something, Caucasian woman with curly hair and an obvious sense of style. I admired her Gianni Bini style, two-toned, wedged, t-strap shoes as she took the stage. (If you haven’t noticed, I have a thing for shoes). I learned that she is the founder of a local nonprofit that focuses on mentoring disadvantaged youth. She seemed a bit nervous as she read from her notes. Her speech began with her description of growing up surrounded by racism and understanding what people of color experience in the world. I secretly rolled my eyes and thought, “Is this going to be one of THOSE speeches?” You know the speeches that sound all too familiar, political even? But, my parents taught me well. I continued to listen respectfully with a corporate smile pasted on my face. I mean, I was in the front row for goodness sake! I had to maintain my composure. As I continued to listen, however, something happened. Her credibility began to increase right before my eyes. She talked about leaving Sparkle City to attend college and enrolled in her first course, Psychology of African American Culture. (100 points added to my mental credibility tally). She became much more relaxed and her passion was clearly evident as she spoke more of her experience in the elementary school and her plan to impact the Spartanburg community. Her drive was contagious and I found myself becoming more and more engaged. She and I shared the same passion I wanted to partner with her! As she continued, she said something that really struck a chord with me and brought Dr. King’s dream to the forefront, “Are you going to sit back and simply wait for change?” OMG!!!! She is speaking my language! By this time, my entrepreneur meter is off the charts and I hear Michael singing softly in my mind, “Heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race.” Before she ended her presentation, she brought spoken word artist, Crystal Irby, to the stage. She shared a piece titled Crucifying King which literally added fuel to the fire. One of the most poignant parts of the narrative was when she said, “The foundation of the mountaintop was built in the valley.” Yes! Yes! Confirmation that my work is not in vain. In the span of an hour, I felt like my passion had been confirmed, revived, and approved.
The rest of my day consisted of partnering in service to a local non profit organization with the Xi Theta Lambda Chaper of Alpha Phi Alpha and the 29th annual Spartanburg Unity Week Celebration. Both events reminded me of the beauty of unity and diversity. Seeing so many colors come together to not only celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but praising God. Oh what a sight! I imagine that this is what heaven will look like. As I reflect on the events of the day, I am again in awe of how a man of such humble beginnings managed to change the world. His level of impact is what I aspire to reach. Dr. King had a dream and I too have a dream that I hope will prove to be relevant for my grandchildren and their children’s children. Every dream begins with an idea. I am charged and ready to make a difference. Today’s experiences can best be summed up with these three words: EMPOWERMENT, SERVICE, and FELLOWSHIP.