“Sweet King Martin, sweet Queen Coretta. Sweet Brother Malcolm, sweet Queen Betty. Sweet Mother Mary, sweet Father Joseph. Sweet Jesus, we made it in America.” Jay-Z & Kanye West ft. Frank Ocean, “Made In America”, Watch the Throne, 2011.
BALANCE. HARMONY. RECIPROCITY. Things are grinding to a screeching halt for the first semester of law school. The momentum of work is only speeding up. I’m steadily waiting for Thanksgiving next week, and in lieu of the impending holiday I think it is appropriate that we take the time out now to PAY HOMAGE to people who have paved the way for us to be successful. Dr. Maya Angelou gave a speech a few weeks ago here at the University of Southern California. In her talk, she told all of us to stay aware of the people who came before us. She said there were people who came before us who had to be misunderstood and called out of their name in order to pave a way for us. ME. YOU.
Crispus Attucks Wright was the son of a former slave and was the only African-American when he attended USC Law in the 1930s. He would go on to become an influential Beverly Hills civil rights lawyer and businessman working on several cases with the NAACP. In 1997 he paid a visit to USC Law and was impressed when he saw that there was a number of African-American students. He was so impressed that he donated $2 million dollars to fund the Crispus Attucks Wright Scholarship. The purpose of the scholarship is to fund the education of minority law students and others dedicated to practice in under-served minority communities. Because of Mr. Wright’s generosity, I am able to attend such a prestigious institution as a 2011 Crispus Attucks Wright Scholar. Maya Angelou said that if she could dance like she used to, she would dance for us all knowing that someone has paid for us. Now we, I, you have the amazing opportunity to pay it forward to those coming behind us.
The DDR: WE have to take time out to give thanks to people who paved the way for your success. It may be our parents, grandparents, ancestors, or other prior trailblazers. We haven’t been able to make it this far on our own. There have been women who had to endure hostile work environments so that women could have the opportunity to be professionals. Parents who have worked extra hours to pay tuition bills or provide pocket change for their children. People who have endured name-calling and other prejudices so that students across the country can sit in a classroom with people of different races. Today, take some time to give thanks to the trailblazers who paved the way for you and think about how you are going to satisfy your debts by paying it forward to others.