Black Girls Have the Courage to Lead?

If you’ve never heard Reverend Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. speak, you’ve missed opportunities to learn intimate accounts about his relationship with Martin Luther King, Jr. When I heard him speak last winter at an HBCU panel discussion at Shaker High School, he shared the most wonderful stories about his time with the young Dr. Martin Luther King while they were at Morehouse. Last Wednesday, he did it again. He gave several accounts of student protests in the south during one of the tensest moments in U.S. history. His talk was so apropos considering what we’re facing today.

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I attended his presentation, Social Responsibility in the 21st Century: A Call to a New Generation hosted by the Cleveland Life Institute at the historic and majestic First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland in Shaker. I had never heard of the organization, so I was curious and I was searching for an event that would feed my soul.

What I learned didn’t disappoint.

For one, I discovered that a really good friend, Dr. Mary Jo Odom played an instrumental role in this event and at the church. I also learned that the Cleveland Life Institute is a one-year adult leadership training program that follows the teaching method of Jesus and teaches social entrepreneur skills through classroom interaction with leadership experts and a community based project.

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I learned more history straight from a man who lived it. HIs memory blew me away. I mean I have issues remembering recent history. This man knows, I mean has lived history over 50 years old. Can you imagine what that must feel like?

To top things off, I learned what it meant to have the courage to lead in a world of unrest. Being courageous is such a tall order and so is being a leader. Dr. Moss made the point of letting us know that leadership is not rulership and has nothing to do with ego. Enough said, right?

Hopefully, my notes, which would never do his talk justice, can be guidance for us all because we are all leaders in one way or another.

  • Have the courage to lead not in the time of comfort and convenience when the rewards are announced and guaranteed, but to lead when no one is present to cheer you on and there is no reward.

  • Have the courage never to compromise the integrity of your soul for what you know is right; cling to the truth like someone drowning in the middle of the sea, clinging to a plank for dear life.

  • Have the courage to make mistakes, acknowledge the error, learn from it, correct it, build upon it, and keep growing.

  • Have the courage to say yes when it isn’t popular, no when it’s dangerous, and not yet even at the risk of criticism from your peers.

  • Have the courage to speak and act when you are being attacked by internal and external critics.

  • Have the courage to hold no ill will for what someone’s done to you, but have the courage to forgive and grow stronger in the process.

  • Have the courage to prepare a better way for those after you not expecting thanks, appreciation or reward but because it is the right thing to do.

After being incognito for a few weeks, sans blogging, I’m glad I attended this event. It made me feel a renewed commitment to my purpose. I got a glimpse of history. I connected with an old friend. And most of all, it planted a seed in me about my responsibilities as a leader.

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