Updated: Feb 17
Greetings and Good Morning,
Happy Monday, to you! I hope that you're off to an amazing start. I had another great and relaxing weekend after a very busy work week. With all that said and done, today, is not just another mundane and ordinary Monday. Today, we officially celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. and through his life's work and what he stood for, I'm able to find motivation and inspiration for my own life's purpose. This week, I wanted to talk about the lessons that I've learn from reading the book "Black Fortunes" by Shomari Wills. In this blog, I only speak of two of the six because, they've made such an impact on me thus far. Although, today, we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. for his contribution to the civil rights movement; I also thought it would be great opportunity to gather inspiration to those who came before him, but fit into the overall message of Martin Luther King's, Jr. dream and fight for racial equality, and the ability to rise above adversity to achieve greatness.
As you all know, I listen to A LOT of talk radio. "If you know don't know, now you know", LOL! Recently, I was listening to The Karen Hunter Show on SiriusXM Urban View, Channel 126, and she recommended reading a book entitled, Black Fortunes by Shomari Wills. The book chronicles the lives and success of six of America's first Black Millionaires. First and foremost, I must tell you that I was intrigued when she described this book because, these African-Americans were able to become millionaires during slavery, and that alone was amazing to me. This book is well written and really, really good. I love how Shomari Wills, overlaps the lives of other well-known African-American figures (i.e. Frederick Douglas) in history, to the lives of each of these individuals. I feel like I've gone back in time, and I can see these individuals living their lives and making moves to change the course of their future and legacy.
This book was just the book that I needed to motivate me and inspire me at this point in my life. For one, as an author and entrepreneur, it's opened my eyes to the lives of these African-Americans, and their business acumen. To read about the various levels of opposition and adversity that these African-Americans faced and overcame, during their time to achieve great wealth was incredible. It made me appreciate what they endured so that I may have an easier time pursuing my goals and dreams today. They were smart, resilient and tough! They didn't make excuses, or expect anything to be handed to them. They just went out into the world, flew under the radar, leveled the playing field in their favor, and made the impossible happen. I've learned there were pockets of opportunity in an an antebellum America where very few free African-Americans seized the chance to be more than slaves, and used their agency to create opportunities for themselves and other African-Americans. It was what I expect more from successful people in our community to be doing today. Using their agency to create opportunities and make the road we travel just a little easier, and thankfully there are some, but we need more. I don't think nor am I implying that we have to be millionaires to do it. Although, I will admit having resources helps to be able "to have a seat at the table", but what if we are the table? What if, we are more like these individuals in that, we bought the table and now everyone has to ask to sit down with us instead? Now, that's what you call "turning the tables upside down." I would love to be in that position. Wouldn't you? In my own special way, I too, can use my resources to make someone that is struggling to come up, be able to do so with my help. This is why it is so important to "lift as we climb." I've always felt that we, as African-Americans, have been afforded many opportunities because, of the persistence, determination, and fearlessness of our ancestors. This book is a testament of what can be achieved when we stop making excuses for falling short of greatness. Martin Luther King, Jr. (and many other activists) set a precedence and a blueprint for us to work together as one. But, it is, also because of the individuals in this book that we cannot fail, and because of Martin's message and their legacy, that we must keep aspiring to greatness! There's too much at stake, if we don't.
Last week, I spoke about being great. The men and women in this book were the epitome of greatness because, they were able to make significant strides in life despite their surroundings, slavery, dealing with blatant and direct racism, and illiteracy. Some were self-taught to read, and had a willingness to learn the ways of creating business opportunities from the very white people they worked for. They had qualities ahead of their time, they were willing to move from place to another, open to having more than one stream of income, and when they saw an opportunity they took it. So, in my eyes we have no time nor should we make excuses, for doing better or doing more. One of the things that I pride myself on, and a model that I'm seeking to build my business around is having seven streams of income. I remember hearing Warren Buffet mention it once, but now I have a Black businesswoman role model to look to for entrepreneurial inspiration, and its Mary Ellen Pleasants. Mary Ellen Pleasonts was an Activist and successful Gold Rush entrepreneur with many income streams. As a matter of fact, each person in this book created more than on stream of income. It was important to own real estate, in addition, to their businesses. This book shows their ability to overcome, and their resilience to keep going when things didn't go exactly as planned. Robert Reed Church, Jr. nearly drowned, died in a fire, and was shot in the head and despite of all that, he still managed to become one of Memphis, Tennessee's wealthiest African-Americans during his time. How does one do that? How do you keep going when you know that majority of the people around you want to see you fail? How do you create a sustainable legacy? I think that they were the "outliers" because, their drive to succeed far outweighed the various things that were put in place to discourage them. I'm so fascinated by the lives of these men and women. Maybe one day someone will read about my life and legacy, and become inspired. I hope to make a splash so big that it must be remembered. I encourage you all to read this book, and let it remind you that you have gifts to share with this world. Remember, that you come from a long line of people that gave their lives to make this world better for you and I. You can do anything despite what's in front of you, if you just prepare, be willing to take calculated risks, and focus. You can make it happen! NO EXCUSES...let's get it, let's go!
1. While writing this blog, I learned that I have a connection to Robert Reed Church, Jr., we share the same birthday. He was born October 26, 1885 and I was born 95 years later on the same day at 6:35 AM.
2. In 2019, "The Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions, in partnership with an award-winning recruitment marketing platform, The Whether, has launched the Mary Ellen Pleasant Entrepreneur (MEPE) Fellowship."
1. There is truly NO excuse for failure, and for not pursuing your dreams. There are too many resources and therefore they should be used to ascend to higher heights.
2. Be nimble in your pursuit, know when to pivot, and have the fortitude to go after an opportunity when presented.
3. Although there are challenges, nothing compares to being not allowed to live a life that I want.
In closing, we can do anything if we believe we can and we work hard enough, and remember those that came before us sacrificed everything to make their lives better! My resiliency, determination to succeed, and willingness to take risks to make my life better is because, I am in some ways connected to these individual's legacy. It means so much to me to be able to fill a quarter of their shoes. There's so much to do with so little time, and every bit of it counts, so let's get to work building on their incredible legacies.
Peace, Blessings and Happy #MondayMotivation!
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