It’s a powerful word.
Viola Davis had a historic win at the Emmys this week, being the first African American actress to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama for the show “How to Get Away with Murder. The show is written by Shonda Rhimes, an African American writer. It is always uplifting to see a talented woman being acknowledged — breaking through gender, color and stereotype barriers, and attaining what she has rightfully earned.
In her speech, she discussed the importance of opportunity.
Without opportunity, one never gets the chance to succeed.
People often ask why do I write, why do I get so involved in causes, what drives me.
I was a beneficiary of those who sacrificed before me. Those women who paid a high price, so that I can have the opportunities I have today.
It’s great. There is no reason that I can’t relax, while enjoying the fruits of their labor.
But the ultimate thank you to those women who came before me, those trailblazers, is to create opportunities for the next generation.
At the last National Black Prosecutors Association conference, a young prosecutor came up to me and told me “I interviewed with you several years ago. Although I did not accept an offer with your office, opting to stay closer to home, you showed me being a prosecutor was possible”.
This is why I do what I do. We must show and empower.
The Miami Herald ran a story on Gwen S. Cherry, who, because of her strength, determination and sacrifice, gave African American women lawyers like me the opportunity to succeed. I have previously acknowledged her on my blog (see the story here
), but read this powerful Herald piece here
. I am proud to continue to serve as the Vice President of the organization that bears her name, the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association.
When you get an opportunity, seize it with both hands, then drive a truck through it. That way you leave the path clear for others to follow. Not only must you take, but you must always be mindful of who is following you.