Each year I write an article about Black History Month. I opine on the history of the community as well as the opportunity to create history. The article that I was about to submit was consistent with that theme. However, in the past four days, three people I care about deeply have passed away. I am going to share about each of them in this article.
Sharon Weaver was truly an amazing mother of two young men, wife to a wonderful man and friend to so many. She passed away last week after a grueling fight with breast cancer. Sharon was a phenomenal woman who had a career as a financial advisor. She transitioned to a career where she taught math and college preparedness to high-schoolers in the Prince George’s Public Schools system where she was nominated as Teacher of the Year. Most folks who know Sharon would say that she had a quit wit and intensity with everything she did. She was a natural talent with music and an avid golfer. She was committed to excellence. She cared deeply about the students she worked with and gave of herself without measure. In all that she did, she gave her all. I marvel at the sacrifice she made in always thinking about how to impact the lives of her family, students and friends. The ripple of her impact is immeasurable. She was an example of the great profession that teaching is and how it can change lives. At 55 she has accomplished so much.
Jay Griffin was one of my first cousins. He was not only noticeable because he was amazingly tall. He was noticeable because he was a presence when he walked into the room. Jay was a man with a great spirit. He brought joy just by being. People know him from his love of basketball. He was a member of the Harlem Globetrotters where his job was to “leap and dunk”! He was a member of the Court Jesters comedy basketball team, and it was his joy and his job to bring joy. He left this life at the age of 51, but he filled a lot of joy into more lives than we will ever be able to count.
My cousin Janet Troutman Simmons was a civil rights activist for many years. She was a small woman that packed an amazing punch. She directed the Western Massachusetts office for Sen. Edward Brooke, the first African American popularly elected to the U.S. Senate. In that capacity she used Department of Defense funds to create a camp for inner city children on an Air Force Base. She served on the committee charged with gathering information to support the federal law establishing Section 8 housing vouchers for very low income families, the elderly and the disabled. She established a number of community mental health clinics in Western Massachusetts, one of which she directed for 10 years. Her most current activism was the thwarting of a luxury real estate development intent to take over the senior housing community where she last lived. At the age of 88 her mobilization of community members interrupted that action and allowed the seniors to continue to maintain their homes.
The date that we are born and the date that we transition surround the dash that is our life. Tomorrow is not promised. Let us live each day with an impact.