I am LaTonya, the first born of a first born of a first born. I was born in 1965 at the height of the civil rights movement. And while I was too young to comprehend the social and political turbulence of the day, on an unconscious level, I felt the current of the collective consciousness changing my community, my race and our nation. I am the daughter of a factory worker and a first-tier company manager who instilled in us a deep sense of commitment to family and community. I grew up listening to broadcasts of Dr. King’s speeches every February, and for a time, my parents were immersed in a prominent social and political movement. Since childhood, there has been an undeniable spiritual and political pulse which would only intensify over the years. Before I could articulate it, I knew I wanted to be a conduit for hope and change.
Clara A. Howard said, “My girls and women, you should live that the world may be better by your having lived in it.”
When I was a young girl, I wanted to BE Dr. King. So much so I wanted to be a boy. Wanting to be a boy didn’t last long, but the reason I wanted to be a boy is significant: I wanted to be a boy because the majority of role models and heroes I was exposed to in school and the media were men. Society’s expectations and messages about gender ignited a desire to find ways to contribute to the empowerment of women. In January I became a volunteer at Alternatives for Girls in Detroit . I lead a weekly Women’s literary workshop. Color Online is a portal to writers who look like our participants and whose experiences mirror the girls’ lives and their aspirations. I want my girls to hear women’s voices telling our stories. These young women are amazing. For me, they are conduits for hope and change.
Beyond My Yard
John F. Kennedy said, “One person can make a difference and every person should try.”
~In 2002 I made a commitment to help educators close the gap in their efforts to keep their library collections current and relevant. I am the founder and director for BOOKS FOR KIDS, a program created to promote literacy and diversity through reading. For more than 2 years, we sponsored 4 schools per year nationwide. Our first recipients, beginning readers at Nubia Academy of La Mesa, California were so appreciative of their new books they created a beautiful book for me. Their gift is confirmation that one person can make a difference. My hope is that our campaigns have been conduits for hope and change.
*My icebreaker speech for Toastmasters, February, 2006.