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The Circle of Life
Oct 13, 2013

My birthday reflection about the comings and goings of our spirits on this plane

Wow, what a week we just had!

Tensions & spirits were already running high, with all of the preparation WURD was making for our 10th Anniversary Celebration. Staffing, checks, decorations, speakers, performers, coordinating with the printers and the caterer...madness, especially on top of our regularly-scheduled business at the station. And then, on top of all of that, to get the sad news that our owner and mentor Dr. Lomax passed away that morning took the wind out of everyone's sails. But we knew, above all else, that we had to continue. All the plans, all of the work, the entire vision could not and should not cease because Doc was gone. That's not how this works. That's not who he was. That's not WURD.

As many of you know, I've been very diligently reconstructing my family tree since early this year. I'm up to nearly 2,000 names now. 2,000 people with stories, journeys, histories that are interwoven with mine throughout the centuries. And as a part of my research, in making sense of so much of what I'm learning, one of my cousins posted a video that explained some hard facts about America before the "color line" was firmly established. Despite the ability for Africans in America to work their way out of servitude, own land and thus become members of the new nation's burgeoning middle class, there were so many harsh and fatal realities, even then. One line from the researcher in the clip struck me particularly hard: Downsizing, during colonial America, meant letting workers starve to death. On purpose. We euphemistically tell our children that for Black people to still be here, after all that we have been through on this Earth, is nothing short of a miracle. But if more of them understood this information, knew for certain that they are the descendants of survivors of the highest order, I believe our world would be far different.

We are survivors. So much more than victors of a trumped up competition for TV watchers. Examples of our brilliance, resilience and tenacity are found in every nook and crannie of our history, if we just take the time to learn and absorb it. On my birthday this Thursday, I will be 4 years older than my mother ever reached because of the cruel persistence of breast cancer. My father was content to get to 85 years, just like his mother. Blessedly, he reached another 5 years on top of that, and then chose to leave this plane on her birthday, a bit of a poetic nod to the life that she brought into this world. Yes, we were saddened by Dr. Lomax's passing, but he challenged us to be fighters. To agitate, inform, create new pathways for success for those who come behind us, and to keep pushing even when doors are slamming shut all around us. To be clever and to present quality. What a disappointment it would have been to shut down our plans to celebrate WURD's 10th Anniversary because Dr. Lomax would be looking down on us from on high instead of in the audience! He left behind a legacy that demands more than us throwing up our hands in grief. Our hands, hearts and minds still have plenty more to do.

On this birthday, I will take several moments to give thanks for all of the moments that make up this amazing life of mine. The tears and triumphs. The sadness and the causes for celebration. Because, despite whatever hills or valleys I may dwell in in this moment, I am still here for all the beginnings and endings and minutes in between. Breathing. Working. Playing. Loving. LIVING. And for that, I am grateful.

Here is last week's playlist:

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In 2009 WURD launched a highly acclaimed symposium series called WURD Speaks, which gathers local, national and internationally renowned experts to share insights on issues ranging from health care, education and economic development to arts and culture and civic engagement.

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