We can’t, and don’t want to be, stuck in black history, but rather be about the business of making NEW history.
We are at a crucial moment for black leadership. We are not replacing our African-American heroes and she-roes fast enough.
The generation following ours will be the first African Americans who did not live through the civil rights struggles. Basically, they don’t know what it’s like to be told “you can’t enter here.” They are the embodiment of the “freedom dream.” Yet they will be trying to provide leadership in a historic vacuum. Their accession to leadership comes at a particularly treacherous time for Black America. The political “right” seem determined to turn back the clock of progress. And, there is the dangerous tendency to feel that there are no uncharted horizons left for them to conquer.
African American children constantly need to be encouraged to become trailblazers. That is why it is important for them (and all children) to know who “came first,” and achieved “what,” first.
African American adults (and leaders) must heed the call to make the word “mentor” into a verb rather than a noun. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. set an impressive standard for mentoring the careers of a list of leaders: Julian Bond, Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors, Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador, Congressman John Lewis and the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson.
Who knows how high our community could soar if every Black leader would follow King’s lead?
Finally, this project is a reminder that “anybody can be great, because anybody can serve.”
The 50th Anniversary celebration of the Santa Rosa NAACP and those inducted into the Freedom Hall of Fame serve as reminder to all that service should be our mission. Each of us must find a way to make a contribution – to make our city, county, state and nation better.
The dream became the vision, we owe it to the legacy of those
who “blazed the trail” for us!