It’s Day 16 of the Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose Project and tonight while being treated to another 50th birthday celebration dinner, we discussed a woman who greatly impacted one of our lives and how often she says her name. The discussion started when Julie shared about her time as a corporate district manager at a progressive company back in the 90s. Young and optimistic, Julie opted to attend various conferences that focused on the work experiences of minority employees in order to have a better understanding of the people she managed. She learned a lot, but didn’t put it into practice until an African American woman, Maxine, spoke truth to her about her level of influence and lack when it came to implementing the information gleaned to illicit change. Sounds harsh but Julie admitted, “She was right.” Thirty years later, I know from every personal and professional interaction with her that she took Maxine’s candid challenge to heart and became a difference maker. “I don’t remember what I did yesterday, but I still remember her name.” What I don’t know, but would love to is how many times she’s taken the opportunity to say her name.
My greatest influence was my Aunt Birdy. Born in 1913 in Kentucky to former slaves, she had to drop out of school in the 8th grade to work on the family farm, yet always insisted I go as far as I could with my education. She later became a domestic servant to a wealthy Cincinnati family who owned a well-known department store and traveled by bus to stay overnight a few nights a week. My strong work ethic comes from watching her. Surrounded by fine things like art, books, music and beautiful decor in the luxurious home where she worked, she appreciated it all and encouraged that in me. And too poor to shop for ready-made clothes, she sewed her own dresses from the latest patterns…Need I say more about that link? Most important, from the time I came home from the hospital, she took me to church and instilled her love of the Lord deep in my heart. Thank you, Aunt Birdy. I LOVE TO SAY HER NAME.
If you’re anything like Julie and me, there’s a woman who has influenced you to the degree that you speak of her often. In doing so you honor her and inspire others. I hope you’ll be Pink Collar Savvy & Chic on Purpose and say her name today.
Be savvy & chic,
~ Pink Collar Coach