There are very few times in my life where I’m left speechless but last night was one of them. The Southern Burlington County NAACP bestowed upon me the 2011 Rising Star Award. It was an unexpected honor and I’m humbled by the unanimous decision of this historic branch’s executive board.
To be recognized in the same event as nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis and state Senator Richard Codey (D-27th) is almost surreal but I’m so flattered this chapter, which dates to 1966, believes my daily efforts matter and are proud to call me their ‘teammate’.
I’ll try my best to exemplify the sentiments of William Layton, chairman of the Burlington County Republican Committee and 2011 Courage Under Fire Award recipient, when he prompted all the honorees to live up to what their awards represents and to work hard in all the ways our time and talents permit. I’ll also take to heart the words of New Jersey State Trooper and Legacy Award recipient Stacy James, when she encouraged everyone to stop and converse with one young person because one conversation can change the trajectory of their life.
There were many beacons of light at the gala last night from Senator Ron Rice (D-28th) to Rev. Guy Campbell Jr. to Civil Rights attorney Yvette Sterling and it was a pleasure to be inspired by their words and deeds. For as long as I can remember I’ve wished, dreamt, and prayed for God to use my life in a way that would matter and surpass the range of my limited imagination. So when my path crossed with the branch of the nation's oldest, largest, and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization, I knew it was going to be a substantial part of my journey. (That’s right, people be careful what you wish for.) So the work has begun and I’ll keep assisting the NAACP in their mission on the branch and state level until it’s time to pass the torch to another ‘rising star’.
(A challenge to future award recipients: God made the heavens vast for a reason, so all of his stars can illuminate the night sky with their brilliant. I challenge each new member to work hard to make this branch shine. Let’s work together to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States and eliminate racial prejudice.)
This award means I will strive to light the way for others that wish to serve an organization that has given so much to me, and my people, so that I might even be more worthy of last night's honor. Thank you Southern Burlington County NAACP for your recognition because it encourages me to continue to serve with the diverse multiracial army of ordinary women and men from every socio-economical background, race and creed—united to awaken the consciousness of a nation.
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