It was the perfect fall day in the US capital, Washington, DC. With a little over a couple of hours to spare before an appointment, I summoned a ride to a sacred place for a walk through time.
Within 20 minutes I was being ushered by the crowd in front and back of me into the vast awesomeness that is the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Since this would be my second visit, I chose to view the exhibits I did not spend time with the first time. Community Galleries was it. This section featured overviews of many of the organizations and people who had been formed over the decades, centuries even, to move a people and its communities toward equality and fair treatment.
My walk through time brought me first to Florence Spearing Randolph, one of the first women to be ordained a minister in the US. Licensed by the AME Zion church in 1897, she preached against racial and gender discrimination. That very fight continues full throttle today.
Next was an overview of the organizations that had been formed over the decades, centuries even to help fight for equality and fairness, not just for African Americans but all people being treated unjustly. There was the rich generational history of Martha’s Vineyard, and how it became a haven for Black middle-class families. And then there was the mini-theater that chronicled, in brief, the role of African American men and women in the wars the United States had fought from the revolutionary and civil wars to World Wars I, II, Korea, and Vietnam. Each of these represents generations of sacrifice; time spent in pursuit of an ideal yet to be fully realized.
When I crossed the hall, I was met with images that struck a very personal chord. It was a wall featuring the famously stylish millinery talents of Mae Reeves who often declared, “You’re not fully dressed unless you wear a hat.” This brought back to me one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had. One brisk day when I was about 9 or 10, I can’t recall whether it was spring or fall, my grandmother gave me a tour of lower Manhattan to show me the different places she had worked during World War II. One of those places was a millinery shop. I remember being fascinated that Nana knew how to make hats. How does one learn how to make hats, anyway? What I remember most of all about that day was learning about the many skills Nana had and used to earn a living to take care of the family while my grandfather and uncles were overseas.
Time is a man-made concept based on the earth’s rotation around the sun. It is the most precious commodity we have. You could think of time as a currency of sorts that we use according to our needs and desires. You might also consider history as time and experiences memorialized.
We have fashioned time into a linear experience; yesterday, today and tomorrow. But neither yesterday or tomorrow really exists, yet we spend an inordinate amount of time worrying or thinking about either or both. Yesterday is captured in memories; tomorrow reflected in our hopes and dreams. But what about today? Perhaps the most important moment is what we do right now to be the best we can be so that if tomorrow blesses us with its arrival, we can revel in the blessing that it is.
My two-hour journey through time was delightful. It evoked fond memories and an overwhelming sense of pride and hope. I exited the museum and summoned a ride to take me to the real reason I was in DC: 8 hours of training to enhance my skills for future opportunities.
I Have Only Just a Minute
By Dr. Benjamin Mays
I have only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it.
Forced upon me, can’t refuse it.
Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it.
But it’s up to me
to use it.
I must suffer if I lose it.
Give account if I abuse it.
Just a tiny little minute,
but eternity is in it.
Until next time, continue to be blessed and a blessing.
Deborah Gray-Young is the managing partner of D. Gray-Young, Inc. a sales marketing consulting and coaching firm providing strategic communications planning and training for marketers, agencies and media companies.
An ICF accredited coach, Deborah is the author of three books:
What Do They Mean When They Say…?”, Decoding Performance Evaluation Speak, YOU 3.0: A Guide to Overcoming Roadblocks for Professional Women of Color and The Young Professional’s Handbook, a primer for young people entering the professional workforce. All are available on Amazon and Kindle
Deborah is based in Chicago.
Follow her on LinkedIn @ https://www.linkedin.com/in/dgrayyoung/