Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Are You Standing Up For?


Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. 
~ Anais Nin~
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks displayed courage in Montgomery, Alabama when she made the decision to take what became a historic stand for the cause of civil rights. When she was asked by a white driver to move to the back of the bus with other black passengers to make room for a white passenger, Rosa Parks refused.

This simple act of courage fueled by a formidable faith in God and the belief that no more would she accept that blacks should be treated as second-class citizens in America, transformed the Civil-Rights movement and America. Rosa Park’s action inspired courage in the hearts of the blacks in Montgomery leading to a 381 days boycott of the city’s public transit system. The boycott became the catalyst by which the Supreme Court in America ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional and it should be banned throughout our society.

I can’t be sure, but I doubt that Rosa Parks awakened on the morning of December 1, 1955 and thought, “Today, I’m going to spark transformation in Montgomery and our nation.” But, she did. Tired from a day’s work, she took the closest seat on the bus that allowed her to rest her weary legs and soul. When asked to move to the back of the bus so that a white passenger could have her seat, she refused in that moment to continue to “go-along” and accept the status quo even at the risk of physical injury. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks stood up to what she believed to be an injustice to her and other African-Americans. She believed at the core of her being that it was time for change.
 Do Something

“If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

~ Malcolm X ~

The Civil Rights Movement wasn’t just about the injustice being done towards African-Americans. Individuals involved in the movement were of all races and they came together to stand up to the injustices that was taking place in America against the oppressed all over this land, regardless of the shade of people's skin color. 

The individuals who participated in the movement felt a sense of purpose and meaning attached to their effort. Many of those who participated in the early days of the movement died before realizing the fulfillment of their goal. That didn’t dissuade others from taking on the challenge despite this possibility. They weren’t people who made excuses.  They were people of action. They understood that the quality oftheir life was tied to everyone having opportunities to improve their life. This sense of community and connection that I witnessed and felt growing up in the 60's left an impression on my young mind. I expected my life to be used to help others in some capacity. I believed that it was my responsibility to use my knowledge, skills and talents to be the change someone needed to help them elevate their life. I wasn’t always sure how I would do it, fortunately my years of developing my leadership skills within Corporate America has prepared me for the season in my life in which my attention and goals are aligned with this mission I've believed for my life since I was eight years old.
Today, as I seek opportunities to attain sponsors for the Elevate Dreamers Academy, I realize that my efforts to convince them of the benefits of developing the resiliency and sense of self-efficacy among single parents and their children is my opportunity to be a catalyst for positive change in Columbia and surrounding areas. I am certain that it has only been by the grace of God, have I had the opportunities to learn, grow and lead considering my humble background including years of living in what is considered the “hood” now. When I was growing up, I was proud of my neighborhood and I knew for sure that my closest neighbors definitely had my back. Unfortunately, today most of the children and parents living in these same areas can’t say that.

Very few people were convinced that I would be able to turn my life around after becoming a teen parent. They saw me as a statistic, but in my heart I saw myself as someone who would figure out how to create a life of significance in the face of the challenge of becoming a single parent. My parents had modeled resiliency before me all my life. I understood that I had to learn how to "play the hand I'd created" to win. Allowing this experience to limit who I would become or what I was capable of accomplishing was not acceptable or aligned with the beliefs and values instilled in my heart by my parents and caring adults. Instead of allowing becoming a teen parent limit me, it forced me to step up to take the lead in my life. 
Now, part of my life's purpose has evolved into creating a program for single parents and their children to develop their resiliency and nurture healthy coping strategies for life’s challenges. It is my prayer,hope and mission for the program's participants to navigate paths that lead to successes that nurture greater confidence in their competency to do more and inspire them to believe that their life is only limited by how far their faith, thoughts and actions will take them. Once they remove the limitations, I'm expecting program participants to take the lead in their lives. I'm expecting for them to change the trajectory of their life and become models of positive change for their families and neighborhood. I’m standing up for single parents and their children. What are you standing up for?

It’s Your Move ~ Aspire Higher