“I want to be remembered as someone who used herself and anything she could touch to work for justice and freedom. I want to be remembered as one who tried.” – Dr. Dorothy Height
I heard Dorothy Height’s voice on Tom Joyner Tuesday morning on my way to work. It was a tribute with Mavis Staples singing softly in the background when it hit me —the Queen is dead. At 98 years of age, her journey has ended but her life and legacy continue. I remember meeting this revered woman on many occasions; a champion of the Civil Rights movement; advocate for women rights; consultant to presidents and the 10th national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” – Matthew 25:21
“How great thou art.” What I’ll remember most is her beautiful smile, her never ending patience as we milled around wanting to talk to her, pose for pictures or just shake her hand. The first time I met this extraordinary woman was in New Orleans when she invited her sorority sisters to her room. I couldn’t believe that I was in the company of this awesome octogenarian, listening to the history and wisdom flowing so freely. The last time I saw Dr. Height was at the Gaylord Center speaking before 1,500 members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, shortly after the election of President Obama. The pride in her voice as she reflected on the significance of his election was not lost on the audience. Later as I talked with her and posed for pictures I thought, “This is what it’s like in the company of greatness.” But to her she was “in the company of her sisters” who she loved and knew we loved her. We should all take a lesson on humility.
“Without community service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop.”- Dr. Dorothy Height
“My eyes adore you.” Entering the room I was in awe. I felt like I was sitting in a “window seat” watching the array of beautiful women of various hues adorned in colorful dresses, head wraps, makeup and hair styles. Many of them were breast cancer survivors “living with joy” at the Susan G. Komen 16th Educational Symposium. I was thrilled when I was invited to be a panelist for this auspicious event. My eyes welled with tears as Sandra Chandler talked about her mom and my friend, the late Bea Gaddy, and her struggle with breast cancer. Sherrie Johnson from ABC2 brought out the absolute best from panelists Dorothy Hopkins, Alice Lifsey, Shaneera Smith and me. The common thread we shared with the audience was the need to encourage family and friends to have mammograms and support girlfriends through the buddy system.
“I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am not your expectations, no. I am not my hair, I’m not this skin, I am a soul that lives within.” – India Arie
The laughter throughout the Murphy Fine Arts Center as we shared anecdotes reminded everyone to keep laughter in your life; have high self esteem; don’t let breast cancer define you; you define it and remember the words of India Arie. Special thanks to Takiea Hinton from the Afro-American Newspapers, one of the sponsors, for her support and encouragement.