Packed house, high energy, smiling faces and poignant reflections – all accurate descriptors of The New Tri-State Defender's 2013 Women of Excellence (WOE) Champagne Brunch and Awards Celebration last Saturday (April 27).
Despite a rainy start to the morning, the Memphis Botanic Gardens still provided a picturesque setting for the sixth edition of the WOE gala.
Another dynamic group of African-American women were saluted for their continued contributions and community efforts. And throughout the tribute there were reflections on the life and legacy of the late Dr. Maxine Smith, who passed on Friday – the day before the event.
The TSD now has saluted 300-plus African-American women via the gala, with Dr. Smith among the first 50. Keynote speaker Rose Jackson Flenorl addressed Dr. Smith's monumental commitment to equality and education and the overall betterment of Greater Memphis.
Reflecting on Dr. Smith's legacy of service, Flenorl, Manager of Social Responsibility at FedEx Corporation, said she and each person in the room had to decide whether to step up and personally carry on as Dr. Smith had done for so many years. She pledged her commitment.
Flenorl urged the WOE honorees – and all who came out to support and honor them – to "buy a ticket." It was a reference to her light-hearted opening narrative, which chronicled a woman who repeatedly prayed that she would win the lottery to escape her financial burdens. After one last catastrophe, another plea heavenward and questioning why God had not delivered, the woman in the story heard a voice that said, "Buy a ticket."
One must make preparation for blessings and opportunity was Flenorl's point, which she drove home effectively with facts and personal anecdotes.
"I can safely say that all who heard her left with at least one golden nugget from which to be encouraged or to pass on for encouragement to another," said TSD President/Publisher Bernal E. Smith II.
The TSD's ultimate goal, said Smith, is "to not only honor, recognize and celebrate our Women of Excellence, but to uplift and encourage them in their continued good works."
The key for the WOE event, Smith said, "is to harness the collective energy, aggregating that power towards a 'village' effort in improving those things that continue to ail not only the African-American community but Greater Memphis as a whole."
Flenorl, who was among the 2012 WOE honorees, extended to the 2013 honorees a set of points that she had embraced on her journey of personal growth and development
1. Be of Service to Others
"No one stands taller on their climb to success then when they bend down to help someone else."
2. Be Prepared – Be a lifelong leaner – Educate then Re Education
Learn everything you can about as much as you can. If you don't know the ends and outs of your company, your profession or industry, you're liable to experience more down's than up's in your career.
3. Set goals. Short term and long term goals.
What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
Do you have a realistic game plan defining where you want to be in the next year?
Do you initiate projects or wait for them to be assigned to you?
Are you enthusiastic – no matter how small the assignments?
Are you considered a leader and an asset among those who count?
Are you confident about yourself and your capabilities?
Can you accept criticism and learn from your mistakes?
Do you fit your company's corporate image?
Have you acquired a sponsor or mentor within the company?
4. Overcome the Obstacles. Overcome your fears.
Don't be afraid to fail. Successful people are not afraid to fail. They accept failure and continue on, knowing that failure is a natural consequence of trying. Proverb warns, "If you intend to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal."
5. Keep the faith.
"Sorrow looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks up."
"Faith gives a man hope and hope is what life is all about." – Tom Landry, Coach
"Without faith, nothing is possible. With faith, nothing is impossible." – Mary McLeod Bethune.
'To my queens this is your poem'
by Darrius Clayton
A straight shooter raised me
So I won't be hitting you
With any fluff
This is merely an attempt
To acknowledge your excellence
Not nearly enough
If I had to do
Of the things you're
Asked to do
A lot of things would go unfinished
The consistently underappreciated
Over looked in most cases
Still finding ways
To find balance
With the world's weight over your shoulders
You step in his position
And still find a way to mold us
Hitting us with true earned knowledge
Tough love and when we needed it most
The warm love to hold us
As a child when the world chewed me up
There wasn't a safer place
Than in-between my mother's shoulders
And when wrong
There wasn't a place more dangerous
Than in her path
Under her roof
In her sight
So I wouldn't be left behind
She kept me right
Gave me what I need
To succeed in life
Women hold many roles
Constantly changing hats
The kitchen to the boardroom
Receptionist to president
Had to fight for equality
Now your presence holds precedence
You deserve red carpets and trumpet players
At every entrance
But rarely get a thank you
For all the things you do
Work your magic
When there is static
Strategic, wise, and strong
I appreciate all that you are
Sitting beautifully on your throne
Salute and a bow
To my queens this is your poem