Like most people, I enjoy peace and tranquility in my life. I find that I sometimes experience profound frustration with the need for continuous social unrest to move us forward. I erroneously assumed that when Trump left, the discord that followed daily in his wake would gradually vanish. To the contrary, Trump’s numerous disciples of evil maintain the type of social disruption I had not envisioned.
Earlier today, I was in that type of mood of frustration, that is until I read the subject line of an NAACP email which read, “Change comes when Black women lead.” That was enough to snatch me out of my funk and fill me with brighter thoughts of the achievements of women of color and the impact of Black women on the story of this nation.
Without reservation or shame, I proudly acknowledge the obstacles which Black women had to overcome while providing a nurturing and protective environment in the face of hostilities intent on physical and psychological destruction. The courage and fortitude of the women I choose to emulate bring great admiration, yet at the same time regret for the inhumane horrors they had to endure to maintain a sense of dignity and personal integrity, and to set the example for those who follow.
The names of these women include my predecessors — Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and Dr. C. Delores Tucker. Others are Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz, Fannie Lou Hamer, Cicely Tyson, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Diane Nash, Ella Baker, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and more.
If you are unfamiliar with the biographies and contributions of any of the aforementioned women, I strongly encourage you to take the opportunity to enrich your life with a brief examination of theirs.
To digress a bit, people are quite possessive and attentive to their money. That is why I was thrilled when the (Biden) Treasury Department announced that it was resuming the process to put the image of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. In addition to replacing Andrew Jackson, a well-known racist and slaveholder, Ms. Tubman will serve as a constant reminder of the “real truth” of this nation and confront each holder of a $20 bill to finally acknowledge basic flaws in the character of this nation.
I am also pleased to see truthful depictions of the lives of brilliant Black women, which had been held in obscurity, hitting or in preparation to hit both large and small screens. I have not yet seen it, but singer/actress Andra Day won the Golden Globe for best actress in a drama for her portrayal of Billie Holliday. I also look forward to viewing both the limited television series and the film dedicated to the life of Fannie Lou Hamer.
Contemporarily, we must look to our current vice president of the United States as an exemplar. My personal familiarity with the obstacles in the game of politics affords me some insight into the strength and perseverance necessary to participate in a successful political campaign. I was a candidate in a congressional district. VP Harris successfully participated in a national election which was infinitely more challenging.
Finally, no discussion of the strength of Black women would be complete without the inclusion of my mother. She raised 9 children alone and gave each of us a spirit of pride in accomplishment and the will to apply our potential to the maximum extent. The life that she, my siblings and I shared was not always easy or pleasant, but through my mother’s example and strength, we learned to face future challenges uprightly and without fear.
There’s an African proverb which states, “It is the women who hold the sky up.” I dare anyone to challenge the truth of that!
Williams is president of the National Congress of Black Women.