Monday, October 6, 2008

They CAN'T vote, but we CAN!

My thoughts are simple certain that you are registered to vote. It's amazing when I watch the news or read an article and see statistics of how many Americans are unregistered voters. I was in the Butler Street YMCA and a young man (around 15) came in with a t-shirt of a presidential nominee. I asked the young man why he was wearing the shirt and he responded because he wanted to be part of the change. Amazing that a 15 year old who can't vote wants to be part of the change. I don't know that I was that politically conscious at 15 years old. It was great.

There are so many people that came before us that fought for the right of African - Americans and women to vote. Let's just be certain that we exercise that right. My students and other young people CAN'T vote...but you CAN!

Let's be an example for all of them.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Everyday Oprah Winfrey

Through the years I have been moved and inspired by Oprah Winfrey's personal journey, but her work as a philanthropist has been most inspiring. Watching the reactions of the people who have been blessed by her giving have been some of the best hours that I have spent watching television. With that said, I think it is very easy to look at Oprah's efforts and think...I wish I could help people in the manner in which she helps. I realize that we can all help in the manner in which Oprah does and that I know several "everyday" Oprah Winfrey's.

Yesterday I attended the first musical production, Annie Jr., that was put on by the Sowing Performing Arts Studio, Inc. ( Under the direction of Nicole Jones a Morgan State Univ. graduate, I watched a group of African-American children ranging from the ages of 5-16 deliver an excellent performance of a timeless musical. As I sat and watched the production, I could not stop smiling.

I met Nicole through a mutual friend and at the time we were both in the developmental stages of our non-profits. We would chat/email here and there checking on the status of the other, brainstorm on how to support the other, supported fund-raisers and lent an encouraging word when the opportunity permitted.

At the conclusion of the production I don't think it was a dry eye in the venue as Nicole shared her journey to that moment. She spoke about the fear that plagues us, the desire to be gifted to do something but not knowing where to start and disappointment when things don't quite go as we planned.

As I looked around at the students, volunteers, parents and guests I pondered on a few thoughts. Oprah Winfrey is a great African American philanthropist that the world watches, but I have "everyday" Oprah's that I see daily. I realized that Oprah gives and donates based on what her resources and voice allows. Nicole Jones gives and donates to children based on what her resources and voice allows and that is what matters.

Whether Oprah is opening a school for girls in South Africa or Nicole Jones is founding a non-profit for inner city youth in Atlanta to be exposed to the arts...if we all just used our gifts, talents, resources and voice to help someone in need then we become not just "everyday" Oprah's but everyday heroes.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Childhood Dreams Becoming Reality

Last week was truly a moment in history. Regardless of any person's political affiliation Barak Obama's official nomination as the Democratic party's Presidential nominee was a defining moment for America and the rest of the world.

As I watched all of the various speeches during the Democratic National Convention that led up to Senator Obama's acceptance speech, I pondered on those childhood memories of encouragement and esteem building. I can recall my mother, teachers and family members always reminding me as a child that I could be "anything". I could be a lawyer, a doctor, the first black "female" Supreme Court Justice and even the first black President.

I don't know that it's possible for me to express how overwhelming it was to watch Michelle Obama and Senator Obama deliver those speeches. I had moments when I laughed, cried, smiled and just sat in amazement as I marveled at how this childhood dream was manifesting into a reality right in front of my eyes.

I felt a sense of pride and belief as I watched Michelle's speech with my mother. In that moment I looked at my mother and realized that what I once considered to be her childhood rhetoric towards me was a childhood dream becoming a potential reality for so many people. I was Michelle Obama, my mother was Michelle Obama and every other African American woman that we know. The moment was simply beautiful.

I don't know that I believed I could be the first "Black President" when that message was spoken to me as a child. While watching Senator Obama's speech I became teary eyed as I processed that fact that this childhood dream that someone spoke into my life was now a possibility in arms reach. That my friends was an awesome moment.

As a African American woman it is my responsibility to encourage my students and the youth I meet to dream VERY VERY big. Twenty years from now when we read of Senator Obama's historic moment in the history books, I can't wait to tell someone my memories of living in that moment. My hope is that when I tell youth that they can be "anything" that they remember my words when that childhood dream becomes a reality for them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Promise Not to Stay Away this Long

Some time has passed since my last blog entry. Correction, it's been months since my last blog. It is quite easy to get caught up in the daily activities and unexpected moments of life that we often forget to take time for the little things. I had to remind myself that blogging is my way to keep all you connected with my personal journey through this process. I don't want to forget to share those little stories, thoughts or experiences that help to shape my life and the life of Make Your Name Great.

Myself, the Board members and other volunteers have been working on some upcoming projects and events that I can't wait to share with everyone. Sooooooooooo, I promise not to stay away this long again and you can expect to hear from me on a weekly basis.

Remember...keep helping others to make their names great!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Proud Mama Moment

Founding MYNG and working daily to take things to the next level can be quite overwhelming, frustrating and taxing at times. Today I consider the challenges to be totally insignificant as the MYNG family celebrates the first college acceptance (Ft. Valley St. Univ. & Central State Univ.) for one of our seniors. My heart is so full that I cannot contain my excitement. Today I accept the roadblocks along this journey if the detours lead to moments such as this one.

Miss Edwards we congratulate and celebrate with you, as you grow closer to beginning a new chapter in the book entitled, "Your Life".

Friday, April 4, 2008

The New Color of Success

It is very comfortable working with students that are excited about attending college. The harder challenge is when you have to motivate young people who don't think college is an option or the answer to their success. In 2008 young people are living in the age of "New Hollywood" and the perception that being famous or wealthy is not derived from a college education. The images are athletes that walk across the stage to receive their diploma to center court in the NBA; Child stars that have branded themselves to gross over 300 million dollars or singers that with the recording of one demo tape instantly go from rags to riches. I don't want to represent myself to say that young people should not aspire to be athletes, rappers, etc., but I do want them to take note that there are more options. I often use Beyonce as an example with my students. I tell them that Beyonce is "loaded" but so is her lawyer, accountant and real estate agent to name a few. The Hollywood star success stories are phenomenal and inspire me, but they are not the only stories.

I was given a book to read by one of MYNG's board members. Niki Butler Mitchell authored, "The New Color of Success: 20 Young Black Millionaires Tell You How They're Making It". I absolutely have enjoyed the book. The stories are not about millionaire athletes, singers, rappers, models, etc., but about African American millionaires that have started wine distribution, contracting, media, telecommunication and environmental companies, to name a few.

I love what the book represents because most (not all) of the stories are centered around college educated professionals. The stories in this book represent people using their gifts for writing, networking and computer technology to form million dollar companies. Many are in the fields they studied in college and many are not. What is key is that college served as a tool for their success. Whether in the form of their first internship, a college professor that became a life mentor or just taking the time to build their skills, a college education contributed to their success story.

These are the stories I want my students to hear, read and use as a form of inspiration (I certainly do). I don't want them to fall victim to the idea that success and wealth is determined solely by dribbling a ball, singing a tune or dancing in a video.

"In this country, we define success solely in terms of money...but I think you're successful if you're being paid to do what you would do for free." Takashi Bufford, President and CEO--Kid, I Love it But You'll Never Get It Made, Not In This Town. (Former lawyer now writer and producer for movies such as Set It Off) You think he writes and reviews his own contracts????

Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's Time

Even as a child, I always found myself trying something new, when it wasn't as trendy anymore. Needless to say, blogging has proven to be no different. Anyone that knows me understands that Make Your Name Great ("MYNG") is my true baby. I have always been an extremely passionate person, but MYNG is tapping into passions, I did not know existed. As I approach the one (1) year anniversary of founding this organization, I am faced daily with highs and lows that make the journey worthwhile. I think it necessary to begin sharing my experiences, testimonies and those famous Oprah "AHA" moments. My hope is that it encourages someone else on their journey and helps my students realize that the adulthood they so desire has its "good" and "not so good" moments. Please continue to check in on the organization's progress and to see how well I adjust to the blog trend.