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Leaving a Legacy That Cannot Be Erased

 “The choices we make about the lives we live determine the kinds of legacies we leave.” 

~Tavis Smiley~

August 28, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I was two years old when the first March on Washing occurred. As  a kid at the time, I was unaware of the magnitude of the social changes happening in America until a few years later. I overheard the grown folks talking about the civil rights activists but I had no idea that there efforts would someday make it possible for me and those of my generation to take advantage of opportunities that had never before been available to previous generations.

Flash forward fifty years and my daughter, Dee and I are visiting the Columbia's Challenger's Toastmaster club determine to decide on a club that will help us improve our communication skills. Having been a part of Toastmasters several years ago, I believe in the effectiveness of its process in the development of communication and leadership skills. The club's word for the day was introspection. I thought to myself, "what a great word for the anniversary of the March on Washington"!

After the meeting and lunch, I began to be introspective on how my life has been affected by the times in which I grew up and how the values of that particular culture influenced my insatiable need to make a difference with my life. I pondered over this question, "how can we who stand on the shoulders of those who fought and died for civil rights leave a legacy of our lives that it cannot be erased?

I begin to surf the web reading accounts of those reporting on the original March on Washington event at the time. Here is some of what Raymond E Crowley reported for the AP about the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 50 years ago:

In a great, dramatic demonstration, more than 200,000 Negroes and white sympathizers massed before the Abraham Lincoln Memorial today and demanded across-the-board abolition of race discrimination.

Gathering around the Washington Monument, the great sea of humanity moved toward the Lincoln Memorial, which enshrines the marble statue of the man who freed the slaves 100 years ago.
Softly, as they went, they chanted the familiar civil rights hymn:
"Deep in my heart I do believe ... some day we shall overcome."
And a forest of placards moved with them. Some of these struck a religious note:
"God of wisdom, God of fewer, can America deny freedom in this hour?"
Others were more down-to-earth and slangy:
"No U.S. dough to help Jim Crow!"
Of all the speeches at the memorial, the one that drew the strongest applause was made by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Departing from his advance text, he said:
"I still have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in the American dream that one day this nation will rise up and live up to its creed: We hold those truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
"I have a dream that one day in Alabama, little black boys and little black girls will be able to go hand in hand together with little white boys and little white girls as brothers and sisters.
"This is the faith that I will take down to the South — that out of this mountain of despair, I can find a soul of brotherhood.
"Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill in Mississippi, from every city and state in the country."
God knows I wish I had been able to be present in Washington D.C. at this year's anniversary of the March on Washington. I may not have been present in body, but my spirit and prayers were there supporting all those who were able to make the trip for this historic event. 
From the pictures and the live telecasts of this event, here are my thoughts on the event: I felt proud seeing the crowds of people, many of whom were not even born, come together in unity to represent the struggle of those fighting for civil rights including the end of racial profiling to economic equality in this country. I recognize that this struggle includes but is not limited to my African-American community. 

In these pictures I see people from all walks of life uniting together for the purpose of paying homage to a historic event, and demonstrating the strength of the human spirit to maintain a sense of hope and optimism in the face of daunting challenges. 

I see people who believe that there voices matter. I see people who believe that in America there remains  a reason and purpose for maintaining hope in our hearts and minds that our dreams are possible.

I went back to the question that inspired this post, "How can we who stand on the shoulders of those who fought and died for civil rights leave a legacy of our lives that cannot be erased?"

I suggest that the way that we can individually and collectively leave a legacy of our lives that cannot be erased involves these two actions:

  • Walk in Love. Love has to become more than a four-letter word that we speak, it has to become who we are. Love has to become part of our self-identity. The manner in which we can access the highest energy available to humanity is outlined in 1 Corinthians 4-8 (NIV)  which states that love is patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It protects, trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 

  • Wholeheartedly Embrace Our Dreams: In the face of daunting obstacles to gaining civil rights in this country, folks placed themselves in danger for going against the laws of America. They were willing to put their lives on the line for the belief that all people were created equal and should be treated with the same level of dignity and respect, regardless of the color of their skin. How can we, who has had the privilege of benefiting from the social changes that came about as a result of these social movements feel no responsibility for building on this foundation through our efforts of embracing our dreams so that the youth of America and the world can see and maintain a sense of hope that their dreams are possible?
We cannot be resigned to accepting "what is" when "what can be" is possible and doable by us.We have a responsibility to ourselves and future generations. We are responsible for creating a legacy of our lives which inspire us to be the best we can be, while at the same time serve to inspire the hopes and dreams of future generations. We are responsible for ushering in the change that we want to see for the progress of our families, communities, nation and world.  

I encourage you to ponder on how you can walk in love and wholeheartedly embrace your dreams. Once you decide on what you can do, in your life and in the life of others to be the change we need, please take action. Unleashing the potential within our families, communities, nation and world requires us to take responsibility for contributing value in ways that lead to continuous progress. Our future awaits.

By taking good care of the present, we are taking care of the future.
~Thich Nhat Hanh~

I would like to know your thoughts on leaving a legacy of your life that cannot be erased. Share your comments below.

Thank you for sharing your ideas, thoughts and wisdom with the GFF community so that we can all grow together.

Thank you for sharing this post with your friends.

Until the next time...

B Fearless

Jackie B

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