The month of February is Black History Month and has been that way in the United States since 1926. My office at work features two framed quotes on the wall. One is by the late, great Maya Angelou that reads: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” The other is from the late, great, and my personal favorite poet, Langston Hughes that reads, “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” Langston was born in 1902 and has so many phenomenal, timeless poems I cannot recommend him enough.
I’m looking forward to adding a third framed poem or quotation from the unbelievably talented Amanda Gorman. “The Hill We Climb” that Amanda shared during the inauguration was so moving it brought me to tears, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. One of the most memorable lines was: “We are striving to forge a union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, and conditions of man.” Amanda was also recently featured at the “Big Game” that took place this past Sunday. I wasn’t familiar with her poetry prior to the inauguration, and since then I have done a deep dive and wow, she is a breath of fresh air.
Poetry had a profound impact on my life and was something I used to express myself when I wasn’t always able to verbalize things. For those that do the same, you know how therapeutic it can be to write things down that are bothering you. My poems helped me process things like my parents’ divorce and how that had impacted my life. I’m fortunate to have such an incredible mother and a dad that was there when he said he would be. I know that for children of divorce that is not always the case. It was still tough though because growing up, the topic of divorce wasn’t something that was well represented in TV shows, movies, and books.
Representation is extremely important and is something I’m mindful of with my children. Our house has children’s books that feature different races, nationalities, and experiences. Personally, it wasn’t until my mother moved my brother and me to Oak Park, Illinois that I fully realized just how diverse and beautiful our world is.
Last week, I watched “One Night in Miami” that’s available via Amazon Prime. It chronicles the true events of an evening in 1964 between Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, Cassius Clay, and Malcom X. I didn’t know what to expect and was really taken aback by the film. I’ve certainly been a fan of Sam Cooke’s music for a very long time with songs like “A Change Is Gonna Come” being amongst his most memorable.
What’s clear to me is how important our short time is on this earth. My hope is to do all that I can to make a difference like everyone mentioned in this column has.