Imagine, if you will, waking up to one of the more beautiful sunrises you’ve ever seen. Now ask yourself: if a severe thunderstorm follows, does that mean that the sunrise never existed?
Now imagine a 14 year old, African American young woman. She’s just departed the 5 train at the Freeman Street exit in the Bronx on her way to walk the several blocks it takes to arrive at Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School. She has little context for who the school is named after, only that her parents wanted her to attend a school that will enable her to explore her interests. But by the time she graduates she fully embraces -- thanks in no small part to her peers, the faculty and the school’s alumni -- Ms. Hamer’s spirit of activism and a desire to head off into the world ready to be exhausted, but also ready to do the important work in the face of this exhaustion.
Flash forward 60 years into the future. Another young woman, a resident of Fulton County, Georgia, gets dropped off for the first day of school at the newly renovated Stacey Abrams High School. For this young woman, this may just be the name of the building she travels to regularly, but we know with the ability to look forward and look backward that the legacy of these sacred grounds was cemented on January 6, 2021.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Stacey Abrams’ name and legacy doesn’t continue to grow and resound from here.
Unless we decide to dwell on the storm and not the sunrise.
From this sunrise the Senior Pastor from Ebenezer Baptist Church, in which the soul and sounds of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. still reside to this day, found his path to becoming only the 11th Black person to serve in the United States Senate. From this sunrise was elected the first Jewish Senator from a southern state and the youngest person to serve in that body since Joseph R. Biden. From this sunrise came the promise of a different way to legislate. And from this sunrise came a new symbol of inexhaustibility, a rightful heir to Fannie Lou Hamer’s “tired of being tired” legacy.
We’re not naive. We know that we’re in for a long haul. As days pass we’ll be able to put the deplorable and seditious acts which occurred in our nation’s capital into some context. In the meantime, we’ll continue to respond by advancing the important work of growing the minds and hearts of young people, grounded in truth. We will create conditions that engage young people in relationships and learning experiences that enable them to develop into thriving, compassionate adults. Although we face unprecedented challenges, we are committed to cultivating the next generation of engaged leaders prepared to secure a more sustainable future for all of our communities.
But for today, while others will rightfully tell the story of the storm, we choose to be stewards of the sunrise.