The day that I received the call from the President's office, I was at the hospital receiving medication intravenously to treat an infection and was at a low point in that day. It was the best news I could have ever received. But now, six days out, it is starting to sink in. Since last week I'm fasting on Mondays and Wednesdays for God to give me something to say. It's clearly a full circle moment.
When I arrived at Northeastern Illinois University at 26 years old, I had behind me two failed years at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. And I mean fail. I left each year on academic suspension. After the second year I gave up on school and started building my career as a political organizer. That's the reason I had flunked out in the first place. Instead of going to class, I was always doing something, boycotting the university foundation investments in South African, registering students to vote, organizing bus loads of students to Get Out The Vote for Harold Washington. If there was a good political cause, I was at the center of it.
So after I punched out the last time, with a GPA of 1 point something and only 12 credit hours to my name, I thought I might as well pursue my passion. With suitcase in tote, I landed in Washington DC and began my building my career as a national political organizer. But in 1988, after the general election, I understood that I had the skills but now I needed the education to be really be taken seriously.
. I had been threatening to go back to school for 6 years.
After that first semester I was recommended for the university's honor's program that actually gave me a full ride. In two and a half years, I graduated from the university honor's program cum laude. I was a half a point from magna cum laude. And I was sick about it... Still am...
But that day I walked across that stage with pride. In just under three years I had earned just about every award/honor Northeastern gave. I remember when I walked across the stage I could hear Jesse Jackson Jr. and Jonathon Jackson screaming. I asked afterward, What the heck was y'all screaming for?" Now Congressman Jackson said, "Girl, you had more metal around your neck than anyone, that was something to scream to the world. Shoot, I was proud."
|Me, Audrey and her girls|
But today it feels bittersweet. I have no family to share this day with. Yes, Audrey will be there smiling from ear to ear, but I'm not sure of anyone else. It is what it is... these days I have learned to accept with Grace that which I get.
The insecure little girl is taking over everything that's within me. I can't help but to wonder what Mama would think. She told me that I was never gonna be shit. She drilled into my head that I had no self-worth and was not worth her protection. I wonder if she would say I fucked someone to get this honor? That's just how Mama was. For Real. All the hard work I put into the Jackson presidential campaign with pride and honor, all Mama had to say was, "She ain't working for Jesse Jackson, he just keeping her around cause she's fucking him." And the kicker, she said it in a room full of people. For Real. But that's just how Mama was. In some ways, she helped to make me who I am. I have spent my entire life proving her wrong.
So in spite of Mama, or maybe in some way because of Mama, on Saturday, I will receive one of the greatest honors a person can be given by their university. This honor will be written into the history book of my life and I will forever be humbled by it... Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think I could or would receive such an honor.
Against all my critics I have used my life and my story to help enrich the lives of others. I've taken the sum total of my life and I've given the sum total of my life to this ministry and for that God is bestowing a wonderful honor on me.
I'm forever humbled and amazed at the way God works. For I know today that this has to be a God thing because there is no way I could have done this on my own!