Living Legends and Historic Heroes

Story By Markie Wolfe

“Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us…”

These powerful words are an excerpt from the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” known as the Negro national anthem. Although these lyrics were written over a century ago, the message is still moving, and the impact is far from outdated. Black History Month is a time of celebration and reflection. It’s a time where inspiration is drawn from the past to paint a colorful future!

As stated in the song, the past may have some darkness, but it has taught us to keep the faith for tomorrow and embrace the hope of today. Every February, people of the African diaspora pay homage to their ancestors who have forged a path full of promise, progression, and perseverance. However, the best tribute that one can make to their forefathers is to perpetuate their legacy of greatness. Even though history should be honored, it is important to practice the art of giving people their roses while they can smell them. Stories of great leaders, inventors, abolitionists, and activists are often told, but there are many that have been birthed before our eyes in this millennium that ought to be acknowledged. Black Americans are still making waves in the deep and wide optimistic ocean of opportunities today.

Sha’Carri Richardson was all the talk last summer at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. Richardson, a Dallas, Texas native, rose to fame in 2019 at merely 19 years of age. While a freshman at LSU, she was named SEC Freshman Track Athlete of the Year after winning the 2019 NCAA title in a college record of 10.75 seconds. Sha’Carri also received the 2019 Bowerman Award, the highest individual honor in collegiate track and field. Richardson briefly spoke about losing her biological mother and the trials and tribulations that her family has gone through on her journey to the Olympics. Nevertheless, at 21 years old, Sha’Carri Richardson won the women’s 100m race in the Olympics and is now one of the ten fastest women in history.

Multi-Grammy-winning artist Lizzo released her hit album, “Cuz I Love You,” in 2019 and since then has not ceased to shock the world with her racy getups and bold personality. Yet it isn’t her style or her songs that she is most proud of. Lizzo has inspired many plus-size women to embrace their curves. She has become a major advocate of self-love and body positivity. When “Vogue” magazine released their October 2020 issue, it was Lizzo who had the honor of gracing the cover. Lizzo is now the first curvy black woman to achieve this. As reported by Good Morning America, Lizzo posted on Instagram shortly after the release: “I am the first big Black woman on the cover of Vogue magazine. The first Black anything feels overdue. But our time has come,” Lizzo wrote. “To all my Black girls, if someone like you hasn’t done it yet — BE THE FIRST.”

On January 20, 2021, vice president Kamala Harris made history when she became the first Black American, the first Asian American, and the first woman to occupy the office of Vice President of the United States. One could even dare to say that Vice President Harris was destined for greatness as her mother was also an overachiever, striving to change lives. The year that Kamala was born, her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer scientist, received her doctorate. Both of Kamala’s parents were activists and they surrounded her with influential leaders such as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motely, who was also a civil rights leader.  Vice President Harris has inspired many girls around the globe to dream big and do what they’ve been told is impossible.

Writer, producer, director, and actor, Tyler Perry has made a name for himself in the media arena. Throughout the years, Tyler has opened doors for himself and for many African American singers, songwriters, actors, and entertainers. Believing in himself when others doubted his talents, Tyler Perry has funded the majority of his many film, television, and stage play productions. Being the sole content creator of his work, he has self-financed his material and owns the rights to them. Tyler’s entertaining films and prime time soaps can be found on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and BET. Tyler Perry has gone from a meager crowd of 30 at his first failed show in Atlanta to a 330-acre self-titled studio right outside of Atlanta. Opened in 2019, Tyler Perry Studios is the first black-owned entertainment studio and production facility in the country.

Black History Month is a pleasant reminder of how far we’ve come as a nation and motivation for what can be achieved. Legends live on through history and heroes make sure the worst parts of history do not repeat. Narratives can be changed. The word “never” can transform into “not yet.” The present is full of potential and the future is marinating in promise.

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won…”