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 …

T. Thomas Fortune: He Paved the Way for Civil Rights Organizers

W.E.B. Du Bois. Mary McLeod Bethune. Stokely Carmichael. Malcolm X. Martin Luther King Jr. These are names of civil rights leaders you’re likely to hear during Black History Month. But here’s one you may not: T. Thomas Fortune. You might say that Fortune was the forefather of civil rights organizers. In 1890, he founded the National Afro-American League, the precursor to a host of groups, including today’s powerful National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Fortune was born …

A ‘Shout Out’ for the Man Who Kept a Music Tradition Alive

Lawrence McKiver, who died on April 2 at age 97 in St. Simons Island, Ga., was the guardian of a musical tradition dating to the time when Africans brought in chains across the Atlantic kept their spirits up by lifting their voices in song. With his fellow members of the McIntosh County Shouters, McKiver practiced the ring shout, a vocal genre that gospel music historian W. K. McNeil says grew out of West African religious rituals and “is probably the …

Older Women Expanding the Legacy of Black History

This is a guest post by AARP Vice President of Multicultural Markets, Edna Kane-Williams. Williams is responsible for the development and execution of strategy relating to growing the association’s African American/Black membership. She previously served as Vice President of Strategy and Communications within the AARP Foundation. Black History month celebrates the perseverance of a determined people. Each year we’re reminded of how African Americans have survived, overcome and excelled despite major obstacles, challenges and injustices. Black women have always figured prominently …