And then I wept

jessie-jackson2I grew up in north Louisiana in the 50s and 60s. The town I lived in was really two towns, the white town and the black town. In some ways, I was mostly isolated from this divide. I did hear adults talking about blacks in ways that I couldn’t understand and I just let it pass.

This all changed in 1965. In response to the Civil Rights act of 1964, the federal court ordered my high school integrated. At first, I didn’t really know what that meant. As the day for the arrival of the black students approached, I remember a conversation with my father. He warned me that he would “kick my ass” if he heard that I talked to these new students. I then knew that something serious was happening.

The day arrived. Several boys and girls were bussed to our school. I could feel their uncertainty and fear as they entered the building. It was as if hundreds of eyes were examining them. They were stepping into a place where for the most part they weren’t welcome.

What did I do? I allowed fear to be my guide. There were many moments when I felt the urge to connect with them in some way. Yet, I did nothing. I was frozen. I have never forgotten that time and the embarrassment I felt because I let my fear keep my feet frozen and my mouth closed.

Tonight I remembered that time again. I never thought that a black man would be elected president when those students entered my high school 43 years ago. I watched tonight as Jessie Jackson, standing in Grant Park in Chicago, held an America flag and allowed tears to flow down his face. I watched as thousands and thousands of people gathered to hear our next President speak. They were young and old. They were from all social strata. They were black and white and Hispanic and Asian.

I then listened with rapt attention to President-elect Obama call us to a higher purpose. A purpose that knows there is never something for nothing. A purpose that says we have to work together for mutuality rather than personal gain alone. A purpose that believes the power of creation is within us and not given to us by someone else.

As I watched, tears erupted. I felt the old shame arise from my complicity in the oppression of blacks. I felt the journey out of this darkness has taken a giant leap. I felt an inner call to dedicate my life to inspiring and supporting everyone in finding their clarity of purpose, inner power of creation and determination for living in harmony. I felt that NOW is the time for speaking up and boldly acting.

I am filled with gratitude and resolve.

Until later,
Thomas

Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

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