Hello SOTGC community,
It was close to three years ago when I took my daughter, who, at the time, was a sophomore in high school, to the University at Buffalo. In the Universities’ admiration and commitment to honoring the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin L. King Jr., they host a distinguished speaker series in his name. For their 36th annual speaker series, Soledad O’Brien was selected as the distinguished speaker. Now, my daughter had been to the University a plethora of times. As a matter of fact, she’s no stranger to higher education, as she has accompanied me on many events at different college campuses due to my profession in higher education. She’s even assisted with programming, set up events and was just charged with taking in the environment and experiences.
So, when the opportunity to attend the speaker series at UB came about, she wasn’t surprised nor did she protest. Education has been a part of her fabric from the onset. Both of her aunts, my sisters, work in education, so she’s surrounded by it the same way we’re surrounded by air.
Soledad took the stage and I immediately found her to be very relatable. However, it wasn’t myself I was concerned about, it was my daughter. As her parent, I am one of many individuals who is responsible for advocating for her in every way imaginable. I caught myself constantly looking at her to make sure she was present. I wanted to ensure that she was taking in the moment, allowing Ms. O’Brien’s words to penetrate her young being.
You see, Soledad spoke eloquently about the impact Reverend Dr. Martin L. King Jr. had on her, us … the world! How he was a young man, smart, but most importantly present. His willingness to fulfill his legacy for the benefit of mankind filled the large auditorium.
However, for both my daughter and me, it was her story of her mother’s advocacy that pierced our souls. She shared some beautiful memories of her mother advocating for her as she chased her dreams. Soledad jokingly told of a time when she interviewed for a position and was asked if she would be willing to shorten her name. With the sweetest smile and warm laughter, she told us how she thought to herself … absolutely not! Because her mother would kill her if she even tried.
It was very apparent the influence her mother played in her life, hence, leading her to great success. She recalled how she would phone her mother after many failed interviews or when companies indicated she wasn’t right for the job. Her mother’s reply was always the same. She would say “Lovie, that position wasn’t for you or that company doesn’t deserve you.”
Her mother’s simple yet profound reply left me thinking of all the wonderful women in my life who have advocated for me, including my mother, sisters, best friend, and many more. Then, in a flash, I instantly thought of the relationship I have with my daughter. How I have strategically stacked the deck in her favor. Empowering her the best ways I know how, so she too can chase her dreams just like Soledad.
When we have someone standing in the gap for us, supporting us as we chase our dreams at all costs, it’s one of the most humbling and liberating experiences. It offers us the additional wind beneath our wings we need to conquer and fulfill our individual mission in life.
Soledad’s story of advocacy and unconditional love is one that I will always remember. Now, I want you to think of the many women who have stood up for you when you couldn’t stand for yourself. How many female bosses have opened that elusive door you stared at for years? I’m hopeful the examples and stories are endless for us all.
Identify a woman in your life, one that has advocated for you unconditionally. Then call her and thank her for the support and love. Remember, sometimes there’s nothing more fitting than a thank you!