Thu04242014

Business

Women’s History Month: Free from bondage

With Women’s History Month as the backdrop, join us throughout March as we highlight the challenges and successes of women, many of them female entrepreneurs.

 
 Carlee
McCullough

With Women’s History Month as the backdrop, join us throughout March as we highlight the challenges and successes of women, many of them female entrepreneurs.

Elizabeth Key set the bar high. She was born out of wedlock to an enslaved black mother and a free white settler. In 1636, Key’s father transferred ownership of her to another white settler for the term of nine years. At the end of the nine-year term, Key was to obtain her freedom from bondage. However, instead of obtaining her freedom as originally contracted, Key’s ownership was later transferred to a justice of the peace.

Upon this owner’s death in 1655, Key, through her attorney, petitioned the court for her freedom. Having served 19 years instead of the originally contracted nine, she was granted her release. But as with the judicial system today, an appeal was inevitable. A higher court overturned the decision, deeming Key a slave.

Not to be deterred, swayed or convinced otherwise, Key, again through her attorney, petitioned the General Assembly, which appointed a committee to review the issue. Eventually, Key gained her freedom.

Key’s tenacity, determination and will to fight in the 1600s speak to how long the fight has been going on. The assistance she received from the attorney that took on this case to right a definite wrong is a shining example that at some point in time, we all need to join in on a justified fight for what is right.

For Key, freedom was her business. Here are some of the many elevating lessons that can be learned from Key’s sojourn:

Free from bondage


Key was determined to win her freedom. She knew she deserved it and she fully understood what the original agreement dictated. While we are free – in the sense that we are not “owned” by a master, many of us still have self-imposed shackles. Bondage is not necessarily physical today; it is mental.

 Be courageous


When told no, Key was not to be deterred. As business owners, we cannot be afraid of criticism or rejection. Ultimately, we will hear more of “no” than of “yes.” We must not be dissuaded, choosing instead to keep our eyes on the prize. Our goal is to build wealth, and we must keep moving.

Be deliberate in our fight


Unquestionably, Key was smart and prepared for her fight. Too frequently, however, some with the determination to fight choose to battle everyone over everything.  This leads to distraction from what is important. We must plan our paths so that we can walk our walk.

Be a visionary


To achieve your goal, you have to visualize it, and it does not matter if the goal does not appear to be practicable. Truly successful people are visionaries that are creative thinkers and doers. A woman of mixed race in the 1600s seeking and obtaining her freedom can only be called a visionary.

Pace, pace, pace


Success is a marathon. As business owners, frequently we have to serve as the salesperson, accountant, promoter and janitor. It is imperative that we pace ourselves for the journey. Having a plan is the first step in winning the marathon. Create a detailed plan on how to achieve the goal and check off the accomplishments as they are achieved.

(Contact Carlee McCullough, Esq., at 5308 Cottonwood Road, Suite 1A, Memphis, TN 38118, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

 

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