Lost in My Memory System

I was absolutely certain we were in the right neighborhood, on the right street, in the right city of the right county and in the right solar system, but I was wrong. It is difficult for me to admit that because it is a confession that will haunt me for the remainder of my wretched life. It was the right area on the right planet, all right, but the street we had been looking for during the past hour and …

What Civil Rights Trailblazers Taught About Leadership

The second in a series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. When introduced to Nelson Mandela in 1994, former AARP CEO A. Barry Rand first noticed the “quiet dignity” that the revered former South Africa president exuded. In a statement upon Mandela’s death, Rand also described the beloved Madiba’s “strong conviction, inspiring confidence, the wisdom of his years and experiences, and a strong moral character.” Rand concluded, “He was a man of purpose at peace with who …

Why Civil Rights Vets Keep Pressing On

The first in a series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The civil rights struggles of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s were largely led by youth and college students, many who were members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or the NAACP Student Council. Now in their 70s, 80s and even 90s, some view their civil rights mission as a life’s work with no retirement in the plan. “I still have an interest in my people, …

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Story of Love, Faith and Victory

Three years ago at age 55, Ricki Fairley was having a routine physical when her doctor found “a little tiny tumor under my nipple.” After further tests, she got the news: She had breast cancer. “I was shocked because I thought my breasts were, like, too small for breast cancer,” she muses three years after a mastectomy on Oct. 20, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A busy marketing executive, her initial thought was, “Gosh this is going to get …

When the World Disappears

A few years ago, I wrote about a lawyer in his 40s who was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. We met for lunch at an oceanside restaurant  and watched a restless surge of waves breaking in eternal conversation with the man about to lose his history. “It’s all fading away,” he said to me. And indeed it was. Names and faces were vanishing in what he described as a blue mist that was ever deepening around him, allowing …

Interracial Marriage: The Colors of Love

Through the din of restaurant conversations while at dinner with friends the other night, a question emerged. It was offered in a hushed tone of shock and disbelief, one woman asking another: “Did you know that Donna is going to marry a Negro?” Though muted, it rang in my head like a fire bell, first as a memory from my boyhood, and second, because only those still trapped in America’s terrible days of slavery and segregation would still use such …