Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Celebration of African-American Heroes

     Our country has a rich history of people from all races that have done great things to change the way we live today.  As Black History Month 2012 comes to an end, I wanted to dedicate this blog post to a few of the African-Americans I admire and have paved the way for others.  They all share one thing in common.  Although they are all from poor to middle class families, they dared to dream.  As a result of them having a dream and following it through, they are all successful.  Today I salute the following;
     Oprah Winfrey was born in the poor rural town of Kosciusko, Mississippi on January 29, 1954.  As an adolescent she was sexually abused several times.  As a teen Oprah became very promiscuous as a result of her abuse.  In 1971, she won the Miss Black Tennessee Pageant. After this event her life took an upward turn.
     Oprah Winfrey is a media giant.  She was the first African-American to host a talk show.  She used her platform to inspire millions to be their very best.  She has many accolades including actress.  Her most popular film was The Color Purple where she rose to popularity playing Sophia.  She also has her own magazine titled, O.  Additionally, she opened The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa in January 2007.  After retiring from her self-titled talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, she began her own television network, OWN.  Oprah is a billionaire and has used her riches to become one of the world’s greatest philanthropists. Oprah is no doubt, a great American hero.
     Next, Tyler Perry, was born Emmitt Perry, Jr. on September 13, 1969, in New Orleans, Louisiana.  He too had a tough childhood that was plagued with sexual abuse.  He also experienced physical abuse at the hands of his father.  At age sixteen or seventeen he changed his name to Tyler in order to distance himself from his father.  Soon after he left New Orleans and moved to Atlanta in search of his dream of seeing his first play, I Know I’ve Been Changed, acted out onstage.   Success didn’t come easy but he never gave up.  Perry leaned on his faith.  Eventually he ventured out and decided to take his stories to the big screen.  His career took off after his first movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, topped the box office chart at #1 its first weekend. 
     Perry holds many titles including Film Actor, Director, Producer, Playwright, Screenwriter and Philanthropists.  Most recently he was named the richest man in Hollywood.  That’s not so bad for a man from such humble beginnings.  Hats off to Tyler Perry!
     Other heroes include, Tony Dungy, Maya Angelou, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, just to name a few.  For the sake of not having an extra long blog post, I won’t detail their life stories and accolades at this time.  However, since I believe African-Americans should be celebrated more than the 28 days of February (29 this year, Leap Year!) during Black History Month, I may feature them along with other heroes in a future post. Before I conclude, I’d be remised if I didn’t add my #1 hero to this list.  She is a caregiver, a counselor, a prayer-warrior, an advocate for people in need and a philanthropist, to name a few.  You probably won’t know her because she’s an unsung hero.  She’s my mother, Elizabeth Douglas-Small. 
     Heroes are not just those that are rich and famous.  Many are hard working, ordinary people that are amongst us every day.  They make a difference in the lives of others.  Who are your heroes?  Celebrate them today.
     Until next time, I hope you have been encouraged, empowered, enriched, and enlightened.