Celebrating Black History Month is a tremendous opportunity to acknowledge our past achievements, address present challenges and dream about future possibilities. The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspires us to dream about a future that affords us to live in comfort and prosperity. He encourages us to build a legacy of hope and freedom that can be realized in every aspect of our lives. It is in that spirit that we encourage you to evaluate your dream of financial security.
President Obama described him as a “hero” who “helped changed this country for the better.” The Rev. Jesse Jackson called him a “leader with strength, character.” NAACP Chairman Roslyn Brock said he “inspired a generation of civil rights leaders.” Teresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, where he taught history for many years, called him a beloved retired professor who “shaped the course of history through his life and work.”
I had the honor this past weekend of attending the Alpha Phi Alpha Eastern Region Leadership Development Institute’s Ecumenical and Awards Program. The program is designed to equip young African American males, ages 15 to 19, with leadership skills. This year’s theme was “ Leadership: Learning, Leading and Leveraging.” The program was on the campus of Howard University, in Washington, D.C. The young men, called ambassadors, one of whom was my cousin, were from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. They participated in enrichment workshops and tours and got to experience dorm and campus life. They were also surrounded by a group of positive men who took an interest in molding their future.
Can you imagine the looks on their faces in the audience when abolitionist Frederick Douglass, speaking at a commemoration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, asked the question, “What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?”
Growing up in Philadelphia, I remember my father always stopping at the corner store for a copy of the Philadelphia Tribune, our black newspaper. It was my go-to source for school papers and other projects. You could always find it on the coffee table of our home and at the homes of many of our neighbors.
Just last year I wrote about the Rev. Willie T. Barrow, nicknamed the Little Warrior, as an example of seasoned civil rights leaders who chose to stay in the battle instead of retiring.
Michael Clarke Duncan was full of life just three years ago. The then-54-year-old actor was at the pinnacle of his career. His Academy Award-nominated performance as John Coffey in The Green Mile is still revered.
While the fond memories of family and festivities are still fresh enough to make us smile, let’s commit to spending time with family, friends and loved ones beyond the holidays. And, in the year ahead, let’s not forget to specifically spend time with young people.
Well, many of us have done it again. We promised ourselves that we wouldn’t overeat during the holidays. But those savory dishes just kept calling our names. And, on top of that, somewhere along the way many of us got too busy and fell off the exercise wagon.
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