2009-02-27 / Columnists

Reflecting During Black History Month

Honoring My Parents

Growing up, my parents were my role models, the people I most admired for their work ethic, compassion and dedication to providing for our family. They taught me that the station in life you are born into isn't where you have to remain if you are willing to work hard and dream big. The lessons they imparted have profoundly influenced the type of husband, father and man that I have become.

Living through a tumultuous period in our nation's history, where a person's color still mattered more than the content of their heart, my parents treated others with the respect and dignity that they were sometimes denied. It was a valuable lesson that I have kept with me to this day. Scripture says be subject to one another, treat others the way you wished to be treated and that is exactly what my parents did and taught me to do.

As a child, I remember my father laboring tirelessly to provide for our family. Never wavering or waning, he subscribed to the creed that work was redemptive and corrective. Only in the most extreme and dire instances did he ever miss a day of work. Likewise, my mother dedicated herself to civic involvement and demonstrated that by her years of service as an officer in the local Democratic Club. It was there that my interest in public service and civic responsibility first began to take shape.

It is their example that encourages me during tough economic times where it has been shown again and again that people have an amazing capacity to do what hasn't been done before.

As a husband, father, and elected official of the people of southeast Queens and the state of New York, I continue to apply the principles my parents taught me. I carry those lessons with me as I seek to do what they did for me - make tomorrow better than today.
Malcolm Smith
Senate Majority Leader

Madam C.J. Walker

Growing up you learn about common Black historical figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. Not to say that their achievements are any less than amazing, but I feel that there are so many other Black people who are worthy of mention.

Unfortunately, I can only name one person and although she is wellknown, many still aren't aware of her story. Madam C.J. Walker, who is also known as Sarah Breedlove, always stuck out in my mind as a teenager. It is true that every woman is different and has a different texture of hair. There are so many black hair care products that are present today and without the advancements made by Madam C.J. Walker I don't know if those hair care companies would even exist. I know there are many other people to choose from, but Madam C.J. Walker did not only revolutionize Black hair care, she was a successful entrepreneur during times when race may have been valued more than talent. She is an inspiration for me to be determined and strive for the highest goal. She is also a reminder to me that it is important to help those within your community and beyond and to leave a legacy behind.
Keisha Frazier,
Temple University Student
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"I Have a Dream" are the words that seem to resonate in my mind as a young man growing up in a time that violence, injustice and fear overshadowed my community - and still seems this way today.

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together," said Martin Luther King Jr.

I have carried these words in my heart for the past 25 years in my daily walk within the community and abroad.

As a 12-year-old, who was blessed to travel to Haiti on a missionary trip, I realized at an early age that if we all take a second out of our busy schedule to help someone in need, things could change.

Dr. King provided me with the formula to want to make a difference in the community. The ingredients in the formula consist of fearlessness, love, and faith.

I have learned and continue to embrace these when working with Councilman Sanders to address issues in our community.

At the age of 25, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. started to sink his footsteps into the sand of American history. From the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the March on Washington, Dr. King was not afraid to walk into the lions den to ensure equality for Blacks seeking freedom. Perhaps if more of our leaders weren't afraid to get into the den, our community wouldn't be held hostage by drug dealers and dope peddlers.

Have we fulfilled Dr. King's Dream? This year I believe with President Obama being elected, we have started to see Dr. King's dream fulfilled partially. However, there is still a lot more work to be done. I plan to continue to work until the dream is fulfilled 100 percent.


Donovan Richards

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