Eartha Kitt (Alan Light via Wikimedia Commons)
Eartha Kitt (Alan Light via Wikimedia Commons)

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! — Deuteronomy 30:19

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I took some time to relax and listen to some biographies of various famous African American women. The story that stood out most was the story of Eartha Kitt.

Born in North, South Carolina, the famed singer and actress had a difficult childhood. Her mother was reputedly raped by a white farm owner. Throughout her entire life, she never learned who her father was. So when she was born, her mother abandoned her, and she was left in the care of relatives who mistreated her as well. Kitt was often teased and picked on because of her mixed-race heritage (her father was white and her mother was African-American and Cherokee). She grew up without any family. But to hear her story was compelling.

According to her biography, the world-famous singer came from a dirt-poor background, and like me, she picked cotton, carrying a burlap bag which holds the cotton. Kitt found out her date of birth when she was 71. But according to her daughter, Kitt Shapiro, who chose not to cooperate with the biography, when Eartha launched a legal fight to gain access to the birth certificate she fell victim to a cover-up by officials. The singer, who died in 2008, wept when she set eyes on the certificate in 1998, only to find that her father’s name had been blacked out, said Shapiro, Eartha Kitt’s only child, who had accompanied her mother.

Shapiro said in an interview with the Observer: “My mother was 71 at the time and it was approaching the 21st century, and yet they were still protecting the name of the father even though he was clearly dead. The courts still held it as legal to withhold the documentation. My mother assumed it was their dirty little secret.”

Once called the “most exciting woman in the world” by Orson Welles, Kitt became a singer and dancer whose suggestive and sensuous performances captured the public imagination in the 1950s. Former lover Charles Revson, billionaire founder of Revlon cosmetics, even created a lipstick for her, calling it Fire and Ice. In the 1960s, she made the role of Catwoman her own when she became the first Black woman to achieve mainstream TV success in America with Batman, even breaking racial taboos by flirting on screen with Adam West in the lead role.

While listening to Eartha Kitt, she talked about how she was already down and out, and the only place to go was up. You would have to hear her talk about her life to understand, but it became clear to me that each and every one of us can achieve more if we depend on God as our Father. Then all we need to do is allow Him to order our steps.

In the first paragraph of his bestseller “Think and Grow Rich,” Napoleon Hill argues that thinking is more conducive to success than any other feature, including money, education, or specific knowledge about something. The man that “thinks” he can accomplish something is already a step forward toward the finish line. But thinking in itself might be a too general term. That’s why Hill translates thinking as a mixture of initiatives, faith, willingness to win, and resilience. From what I read in my research, Eartha Kitt was a Jew, and she had faith.

Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website,, email or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.

Lyndia Grant

A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!

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