A Focus on Dignity and Non-Violence at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

On April 15th I was honored to lead a Dignity Day session as a HOPE Corp Volunteer through Operation HOPE (HOPE) at the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA) in Atlanta.

What is amazing is how the majority of this class of ninth graders were initially completely turned off to the idea of having to listen to yet another speaker that day as they were just returning to their classroom from an assembly that focused on the theme of 100 days of Non-Violence…so they were shifty and closed off. But about 15 minutes into our conversation some of the girls who had crossed arms were soon raising their hands and answering questions.

I started off by talking about the concept of legacy and that that day we were laying the foundation and road map for them to create and eventually leave behind a strong, dignified legacy. I had them define the term legacy in their own words and then share some of their dreams, goals and aspirations. Then as our conversation deepened I shared with them the history of how HOPE was founded, the services and programs that HOPE offers, and I started to weave a story where life included them and their legacy.


I think helping them share the names of empowered and dignified women they see in their family, community, and elsewhere who had similar or worse lives growing up helped them to see that they too could be those same type of women- that they are these women but in-training and with the potential to do more and help more in the long run because they are being equipped with the tools at a young age; and our adversity isn’t an excuse to let life pass us by or a crutch to coast through life doing and expecting the bare minimum, but a reason and motivation to excel and succeed.

These young ladies were shocked to hear that the civil rights movement as it pertained to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Ambassador Andrew Young was sparked, motivated, and pushed along due to their wives Coretta Scott King and Jean Childs Young- two women who endured and overcame adversity and strife. Hearing this information made many of these girls sit up straight in their chairs and listen intently.

                        

When I spoke about not holding grudges, and that forgiving people is not to benefit the person they were forgiving but to help themselves heal, grow, and overcome- some girls shifted in their seats their seats, a few others rolled their eyes in disbelief; but then when I mentioned Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vandzant and their ability to forgive their abusers and using strife as a launching pad towards success- some of the girls started naming other people like Fantasia and Tyler Perry who was sexually and physically abused and how he also overcame and pushed himself to success.

We discussed the concept of family and that it isn’t just our immediate family we need to be concerned about but our neighborhoods, cities, state, our country, and our global family. Because I know that girls can be equally as cutthroat as boys, I made sure that we had a heart-to-heart chat about trash-talking and “clowning” people and how although initially it can be lighthearted and funny, it can also be crippling and tear apart our “extended” family.

We discussed being relevant not only in this country but globally, and that true wealth (spiritual, financial, etc) can only be maintained long term by leading a dignified life, not by living up to the negative stereotypes that are projected globally about Black females. We discussed self-empowerment and not waiting on the government or specific programs to help us, that we have to help ourselves. That we shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to pick up trash on our sidewalks- we should pick it up ourselves.

We shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to cover the graffiti on our walls and buildings- we should paint over it ourselves; we shouldn’t wait for someone else to beautify our streets and parks with trees and flowers- we should plant them ourselves. I explained that they should be volunteering in their community through church or some other organization taking pride in restoring, building, maintaining, and beautifying their neighborhoods.

We had a pretty good time. We laughed and talked about boys and expectations of being respected by males and all people when you carry yourself with respect and dignity. We discussed the language of money and being financially literate, and how this literacy will empower them. It was refreshing to see that many of them have savings accounts and that two of the students had traveled abroad- one to London and the other to the Bahamas. Two young passport carriers living in an underserved and underrepresented area of Atlanta- doesn’t that give you hope? It gives me hope and encourages me to continue my work in the community, and my work through Operation HOPE.

I hope more men and women find it in their hearts to invest one hour of their time at least once per month to volunteer in a church, in a class room, or in a youth center through Operation HOPE. One person can make a difference!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
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>Spiritual Connectedness: There are Many Ways We’re Called to Serve

>Daily I attempt to send via email and text Biblical scriptures, accompanied by a prayer and a reflection on both the passage and the prayer, in hopes that those I connect with spiritually will share with me the Word, pass on the message to others, and help spread love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, humility, tolerance, understanding, grace, care, and hope for a better today and tomorrow.

My friend Kenya began sending me scriptural text messages about two years ago, and from that seed she planted grew something so great and powerful that I felt the need to share with others. It is amazing how if I miss a day, friends and family quickly ask where their message for the day is, and if I’m okay. They look forward to reading the passages, reciting the prayers, deeply pondering on the reflection, and sharing their insight. 

It has been said that I should share these daily messages with others beyond the fifteen or so people I currently forward these words of inspiration to…so I have agreed to take the message beyond my comfort zone and share them in a blog named after the subject line in each daily email I send, “Natasha’s Daily Scripture, Prayer & Reflection”. 

The URL is simply http://breakingbreadwithnatasha.blogspot.com/

This isn’t a blog with me preaching, passing judgment, hooping and hollering, and acting holier than thou. It’s also not about converting, recruiting, or the like. No reference to any denomination, church, being or person (unless they are named in the Bible) will EVER be shared here. No one is allowed to advertise or promote anything at anytime. I’m simply sharing with the masses what I have been sharing with a few. Want an example? Great. Here’s today’s message:

Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it the issues springs life.
Proverbs 4:23

Pray
Father, thank You for giving me peace through any situation I might face. Thank You for the Word that turns any mess into a miracle; that lifts one up when we’re down, gives us hope when in doubt. I will praise so I can be raised. I Love You Father. In Jesus’ name Amen.

Reflection
When times gets rough we show our true self to the world. How do you respond during turmoil? Do you let it drag you down to your lowest depths or do you grab ahold of something and fight your way back to the top?

How are you in relationships? Are you putting God 1st or do you think of your perceived wants and needs first? If your heart is not warmed by and for God then you struggle to forgive, let go of past issues, move forward, and grow.

Today won’t you take that step towards faith that God as your protector has you?
Feel free to join me for daily inspiration as we pray together for each other, and for the rest of the world. http://breakingbreadwithnatasha.blogspot.com/

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

>Reflection…Resolution…Peace…Your Journey

>The best way to gauge when you are indeed “over” a relationship is to assess how you “feel” about the person, the relationship, and how it is ending or has ended.

Do you feel anger, bitterness, rage, jealousy, or sarcasm?

Do you feel sad, depressed, regret, or doubt?  

Do you still have the love letters, cards, and notes they gave you when life was all about the two of you? Do you find yourself frequently reading them, reminiscing, looking at your pictures and home movies?

Maybe you simply notice a numbness or indifference to that person, to the relationship…to the love you once shared.

It is also quite possible that you experience a sense of contentment, peace, or satisfaction.

When you get past the emotional roller coaster of anger, tears, sarcasm, and second-guessing yourself…when you get past speaking regularly about the other person, and your days no longer are sprinkled with images of them, sounds of their voice, urges to contact them, or thoughts of wondering what they are doing at that moment and who they are with…you are one step closer to being “over it”.

When a sense of peace blankets you and you see that relationship, that person, as an experience that was necessary to live without regret, but also without a desire to return… you have evolved beyond that level of experience…you are “over it” and “over” them.

Congratulations and peace be with you on your next journey of love!
Copyright © 2010 by Natasha L. Foreman. All rights reserved; excluding displayed images.

Angry Woman Image Source: http://www.inspiration-for-singles.com/images/controlling-anger.jpg

Depressed Man Image Source: http://trendsupdates.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/depression-from-defence-magazine.jpg


Happy Woman Image Source: http://thekiwimillionaire.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/happiness.jpg


Love Letters Image Source: http://www.research.olemiss.edu/UMQuest/2006/Winter/images/LoveLetters.jpg


Pathway Image Source: http://amyjohines.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/journey-to-unknown.jpg