Soul Sistahs

Wednesday, 9 May 2007
I was going to write about my Atlanta trip after returning to DC but so much happened in the past 2 days, it was hard to keep it all in my head! A few highlights from the show:
  • First, a taste of history. Spelman, one of the oldest historically Black colleges for women founded by antislavery activists, played host to a dialogue betweeen Anne Roosevelt, the granddaughter of Eleanor and FDR, and the Rev. Mazie Ferguson, the great-grandniece of Mary McLeod Bethune on race, class and gender. Both agreed those 3 things were artificial constructs and gave some insights into their foremothers' great friendship. One story was how Bethune went to visit Eleanor and was told that she had to take the stairs, not the elevator. She went up and Eleanor took her back down in the elevator and then said: "Oh, I forgot something, we need to go up again." They forgot to have tea :) Roosevelt, a vice president for Boeing, and Ferguson, seemed to show the same concerns as their relatives. "If they were alive today, they would be fighting for the same things," said Anne. "Amen," said Ferguson.
  • I met some cool grandmothers. They were in their 60s, running corporations or contemplating retirement and all very passionate about education. There was Patty who was into designing e-learning tools and crazy about hot rod cars, there was Ann a former CEO who talked of how a trip to [the former] East Berlin changed her outlook and made it possible for her to go to HBS after having 2 kids at 22. The word they used often was "intentionality." If there is intent, or a will to do something, the stars align themselves.
  • And finally the American Indian tribal leaders. Fierce and proud. And still carrying wounds of the past. Someone asked Beverly, a tribe member from Martha's Vineyard (yes, they were there before the Kennedys) "What kind of an Indian are you?" All of us were stunned into silence. Brenda, the first woman chief of an Indian tribe - the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in Princeton, Maine - spoke of still existing rascism and finally, Sharon from a Texas-based tribe ended on an emotional note: "We just want to be included in the conversations. When you talk of Hispanic, Asian, Whites and others... don't forget about us.. we're human beings, too and we want the same respect."
  • My media panel went off pretty smoothly... I was a kid compared to the veterans surrounding me and the lady to my left was this publisher honcho who kept plugging her magazine (and i refuse to plug it here for her benefit). anyway, she forgot to switch off her cell phone!!!! ugh. thank god it was ringing while she was speaking. and then at some point she was in the middle of telling some anecdote and it required her to take off one of her shoes - aren't they cute?, she says - and i didn't know whether to duck my head for cover.

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