Success is something that, as a community college president, I think about often. While it can be argued that there is wisdom to be found in failure, it is nevertheless a primary goal of mine to ensure that the tools, services and resources necessary to help CCAC students succeed in their academics are in place and readily accessible.
But academic resources are only one part of the equation. There is also hard work, of course, support and sometimes even a little luck. Ultimately, though, I think one of the most powerful ingredients to continued success is the personal drive and motivation to achieve one’s goals.
Where does that motivation come from? There are countless sources, all unique to each individual person, but I believe one of the most important components of the motivation to succeed is inspiration—inspiration from those around you, from those you admire, from those who have incredible stories of triumph over adversity. Inspiration can keep you going when you might otherwise be tempted to quit too soon.
For people of color in this country, whose histories and legacies do not always make it the forefront, hearing an inspiring story of success can be all the more powerfully motivating. Unearthing and promoting the visibility of these stories as part of the fabric of American history so that future generations can draw knowledge and inspiration from the lessons of the past and the people who pioneered, persevered and triumphed is just one reason why Black History Month is so important.
So as Black History Month draws to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you just a few of the amazing African-American men and women who have had a profound impact on me and whose words and deeds are a continual source of inspiration in my life.
The story of Madam C.J. Walker, one of the first female self-made millionaires in the US, is one that has stayed with me over the years. After inventing and building a successful business around African-American hair care products at the age of 37, she continued to devote her wealth, energy and resources to establishing training programs for barbers and stylists, philanthropic endeavors, and community engagement and activism. The foundations she laid inspired and enabled countless others to follow their dreams and find success in the early 20th century and beyond.
I am also inspired by the words and life story of Frederick Douglass, leader, statesman and brilliant writer and orator. Born into slavery in Maryland, he successfully escaped in 1838 and quickly became a prominent figure in the abolitionist movement for his eloquent speeches and his powerful autobiography. Douglass was a tireless advocate on behalf of both education and equality for all, and it is primarily these two causes that have shaped my personal and professional life.
“Once you learn to read, you will forever be free.” –Frederick Douglass
I was profoundly humbled to be able to witness our nation’s first African American President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama. Reflecting on the impact of their leadership inspires me in my own leadership and vision. The significance of their legacy strengthens my resolve to strive for excellence and to do all that I can to make a difference in the lives of others.
And finally, no list would be complete without the incomparable civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His ongoing legacy of justice and equality showcases the true weight and power of continual nonviolent resistance in the face of overwhelming adversity. His dream for a more peaceful and equitable society has made a difference in the lives of so many and is a continuing source of inspiration and guidance.
Who are some of the African-American leaders, heroes and artists who have had a profound impact on you? Let me know—I am @QBpresCCAC on Twitter.
P.S. I would be remiss if I didn’t remind our student readers that registration is now open for half-term spring and summer 2018 classes. You can enroll online through the my.ccac.edu portal—so convenient!