Amid the blatant racism and discrimination running rampant throughout the predominantly white Mississippi Legislature, a silver lining lies right in the center of my anger and disgust.
March is Women’s History Month, and so I intentionally find solace sitting at the feet of incomparable Black women—matured trailblazers who I have the pleasure to walk among, those presently thriving in life and joy that I get to call my family and friends, and those I’m tethered to spiritually, my cloud of witnesses and ancestors.
In the past several weeks, I’ve prayed to God, asking Him to reveal more of my heart to myself and gently cut away the jagged edges of my character. But I never expected the answers I received. Yes, it’s humbling to stand naked before God and ask for more insight, to want to really master the unknown parts of myself and to expect corrective action—I braced myself for the hard truths that would be revealed. But what moved in my spirit was confirmation over and over again that I am in the right place at the right time. Every experience, every relationship, every fault and mistake have positioned and prepared me for such a time as this.
Last month, I had the opportunity to host an MFP VIP event to speak with Dr. Beverly Wade Hogan, the first Black woman to become president of the historic Tougaloo College. Now, I’ve hosted a few MFP Lives here and there, but this was my first time doing an MFP VIP event, and Wendy Shenefelt and I filled in due to Donna’s illness and Kimberly’s travel schedule. I’m ashamed to say that this was my first time hearing of Dr. Hogan’s legacy, let alone speaking to her, so I was very nervous.
Dr. Hogan talked about qualities every good leader, man or woman, should have. She talked about remaining friendly, firm yet fair; the importance of maintaining integrity, maximizing your relationships and curating a team you can trust; aspiring for greatness and not settling for mediocrity. She talked about being blessed enough to work in purpose and passion at every level of her career confidently, with grace, dignity and class.
In that moment, Dr. Hogan became a tangible representation of my hope to become a well-rounded leader who prioritizes love, relationships, respect, integrity and character while excelling in whatever space God places me in.
This is the time, both in the various microcosms of my personal life, including that of my capital city, and in society at large, to walk in real love—a fearless love that stretches beyond self. It became clear to me that it’s perfectly OK for me to rest in my purpose and to remember that I’m not a stranger to discipline. Reaching to become better is admirable, but disregarding my journey and the lessons I’ve learned to get here, is not true faith and trust in the Creator. Being afraid to openly love and “go and do” even when it doesn’t benefit me, testifies that I’m not fully trusting in love, meaning I’m not fully trusting in God. Wherever fear is in my life and heart, love cannot thrive.
So despite the sheer hate, panic and desperation from white politicians as they attack democracy in Jackson, I choose to hear the voices of my elders and build better on the foundations they left for me. I choose to remain spiritually honest while working out my imperfections and shortcomings, but I won’t allow my flaws to keep me from accepting and giving love without fear.
Our spring fundraising campaign is “A Free Press for ALL Mississippians,” which means we are willing to go and do what’s necessary to ensure that the needs and wants of all of us are rightly represented in the media to showcase a collective Mississippi—a Mississippi that thrives in diverse collaborations and not self-serving silos. I won’t shy from my part in building genuine relationships with our readers, supporters and fellow citizens. With your support, the right representation of the real Mississippi can spread to every corner of this state, but we can’t do it without the almighty dollar.
I encourage you to donate today. Whatever your means are doesn’t matter—trust me, every penny counts. What does matter to us is the intent, your personal sacrifice to build the free Mississippi we all deserve no matter our past, race, or socioeconomic status. Let’s continue this journey to freedom and continue to love without fear, even in darkness.
This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Journalism and Education Group, the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an opinion for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and sources fact-checking the included information to firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.