Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment

August 16, 2020

My country is standing at a crossroads over Human Rights. The USA's path forward will be determined by the November elections -- the most important of my lifetime. 

For the record, I am OVERJOYED with the selection of Senator Kamala Harris as the Democratic vice-presidential candidate. Not only is the first woman of color to be chosen for a major party national ticket brilliantly-qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, Harris is a skilled fighter, which is exactly what Senator Biden needs for the reckoning ahead. 

Since the public murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, I have been asking myself -- as have millions of white Americans -- "What can I do to finally bring an end to the systemic racism upon which the United States was built and that we have never fully acknowledged?" Unprecedented numbers have taken to the streets to legally protest, which I support.

But just as essential as public outrage is the private work that each of us must undertake to actively listen and urgently learn about the history that we were never taught. 

My most recent teacher is Louisiana legend Sybil Hydel Morial, author of WITNESS TO CHANGE: From the Jim Crow South to Political Empowerment. It was my privilege to recently interview her for the Game Changers podcast of the International Women's Forum. 

Born into the dehumanizing segregation of the Jim Crow South, Morial is a life-long activist, educator and author who rose to the mountaintops of political power. A college friend of Martin Luther King, wife of the first African American mayor of New Orleans, and mother of the current CEO of the National Urban League, Morial's perspective on the Civil Rights fights of the last six decades and wisdom on the way forward are compelling. 

Today, I am also thinking of another legendary African American woman who inspired us in different ways. Aretha Franklin died two years ago on August 16, 2018. 

Thousands waited for hours to pay their respects before she was buried here in her hometown of Detroit. Click here for the episode of POWERING UP from her funeral.

Michigan photographer Linda Solomon, whom Aretha trusted to photograph many of her most private moments, captured the soul of Aretha in her stunning book.  Click here for my conversation with Linda talking about her never-before-seen photos. 

The soul and future direction of the United States of America are at stake in the upcoming November elections. 

As I listen to the powerful voices of Kamala Harris, Sybil Morial, and Aretha Franklin, I am turbo-charged for the fight ahead that is urgently calling us back to the front lines. Hope to see you there!

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