I want to express my sincerest gratitude for the September 1, 2010 Austin Weekly News coverage of my "hard and heart" work. To Ms. Finisha O'Quinn, the contributing writer, thank you for allowing my words to have wings. Some people are not proponents of sharing what they believe to be, "Family Business." I understand and respect that point of view. For me, I have found that releasing the good, the bad and the ugly is liberating, healing, and empowering-necessary. In agreement with my core, God, my spirit and my mom, I opened up without fear or regret. There are many parts of a story. And while I am only one character within mine, I have the right to tell it like it was for me. Thank you mom for understanding that.
For years I allowed silence to paralyze me. I was a hostage to those characters privy to my story either intimately or bystanders who either threatened to tell what they knew or thought they knew and/or made me feel guilty and ashamed because parts of their stories were interconnected with mine. Alice Walker has a profound saying, "In search of my mother's garden I found my own," which meant that once I learned more about my parents’ stories, I found the power to forgive them. I am not dismissing or diminishing the lack of accountability on their part. I do believe however, there is a difference between “excuses” and “explanations” and as human beings we fall-we fail, we hurt-we harm, we fear-we fret, we suffer-we survive. Now that I am a mother I understand it "better by and by." I am far from perfect but strive each day to get it right and still I often miss the mark. Like my parents, I know that my son benefit from the blessings that were once my baggage.
I believe that I am the best of my parents, which includes their humor, wit, creativity, drive, work ethic, strength in the face of adversity and a love that surpasses all understanding. From time to time, I wonder, "Why me?" Well, the story, "Advocating for a Black Girl," offer many answers to that question. I don't know if I would be as committed and concerned about the welfare of others if any part of my life were different. And since I will never know, I work hard on only looking back to see how far I've come.
For future" Condors" know that Curie Metro High School is a special place. You and your family have the ability to make it the type of school that you want and need it to be. Just as we, the class of 1988 did with the help of teachers who were also parents, thank you Mr. McCowan and for friends, who were also sisters, thank you Keeby McMillon.
I do not have "THE” solution or blue print when it comes to reclaiming our villages. That is why I appreciated the opportunities to teach and learn at the University of Illinois at Chicago over the past year. During my interview with Ms. O’Quinn I expressed my gratitude for the support of Dr. Alfred Tatum, Director of the UIC Reading Clinic and Associate Professor in the College of Education at UIC. Due to his vision and the scholarly contributions of Ms. Gholdy Muhammad, my Co-Leader of the first African American Adolescent Female Summer Literacy Institute and UIC doctoral student, Black girls were able to express through writing, their dreams, their challenges, their stories.
I am still overwhelmed by the calls, texts and e-mails in response to the article. Humbly I say that my former years served as the foundation of my faith. That I earned every degree with my full self-despite the odds stacked against me. And “Still I rise,” because my Bachelors of Arts (B.A.) is my "Blessed Assurance." My Masters of Science in Education (M.S.E.) is my Mercy, Salvation and Everlasting to Everlasting. And, my Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is unquestionably my Praise, Healing and Deliverance.
Take from my HerStory what is useful to you and pass on the rest.