This has been a tough week for me – a mix of high’s and lows. My grandmother passed away a week ago and although it wasn’t shocking as she’d been sickly for a while. It’s just never easy to receive the news that a loved one has passed on, especially a grandmother. It was jolting to realize at that very moment, the torch my grandmother courageously carried, had been officially passed on to the next generation.
I was leaving a prestigious birthday celebration when I got the news. TWS was onboard to help a partner agency handle media check-ins for Thomas W. Dortch, Jr., chairman emeritus of the board of 100 Black Men of America, a man who’d lived his life leading the way for others. The event itself was inspiring and it made me quite proud to see Black people arrive in style with their heads held high, their accomplishments easy to see not only by name recognition, but also by the way they moved and mingled in the crowd with such poise and grace. They were stepping high and proud but they also showed off humbleness through warm smiles and handshakes. It was a complete honor to meet such dignitaries as Susan Taylor of National CARES Mentoring (Essence Magazine), Roland Martin, Emmanuel Lewis, Andrew Young and his wife, Frank Ski and his wife Tanya, April Woodard, Dawn Lewis and to work alongside those who ‘know’ folks like Jeff Johnson, Mike Phillips, Xernona Clayton and Fmr. Pres. Bill Clinton. As I observed and embraced this moment that was mine, I had to wonder what had I gotten ‘right’ that put me in this place at this time? And then I began to contemplate the careful planning these great people must have done in order to do and be these things. Then I began to ponder what could be the driving factor behind their ambition when this word ‘legacy’ seemed to permanently imprint itself in my mind.
To observe this ‘highfalutin’ crowd, it’s easy to see the legacy being built for all of these named folks as well as all the ‘unnamed’ folks. You see, for me to be placed in the very center of ‘all that glory’ meant that my own glory was evident too and that I am doing something worth being repeated and recalled in my own family. Legacy is a word that has been in my family – on both sides – for several years now. My great cousin, Mary Anna Neal Bradley, a wise counselor, retired teacher and now author, penned her first book, “A Legacy of Inspiration” nearly two years after her retirement from the school system in which she gave over 30 years of service to. She chose me – all wet behind the ears and eager to put my latent talents to test, as her publicist to get her book published and marketed. It was thrilling and scary at the same time, but from taking on that first challenge and absorbing every iota of her book project, not fully realizing the divine nature of it all, I launched my public relations firm shortly afterwards that has now morphed into a wonderful partnership in TWS. Even if I couldn’t quite understand or articulate what that experience meant – the influence and the irony of that moment shaped my heart and mind for legacy building.
It’s important to note when a person moves forward with legacy in mind, miracles happen. So as I gathered with my family this past weekend to say our final goodbyes to this strong and magnificent woman who influenced us in one way or the other and looked around in awe of the beauty, strength, boldness, flair, style, Grace (her name), proud-ness filled my heart, as I inhaled my grandparents and their legacy. It was simply miraculous to me to realize that two people made a decision to partner in marriage and from their union 29 grand children and 25 great grand children were conceived – WOW! We all are these different expressions of my grandparents in all their glory. We have a right and the responsibility to carry out, in grandeur style, the legacy that has already been laid forth. The entrepreneurs, the artists, the chefs, the storytellers, the fashion icons, the business professionals – we all have such great talent and so much to give to our communities and the global world around us. My hope is that we embrace the fullness of what this word legacy means – no matter what color we are – and continue building upon it and proudly pass on a worthy legacy to the next generations.
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