I remember the very first time I voted. It made me feel like I had finally crossed the threshold into adulthood. Most importantly, I felt that on that day, I had entered into a sacred sorority with the women I deeply admired. These women weren’t movie stars or pop singers. These women were organizers and teachers, community activist and architects of change. Their names were spoken proudly in churches at podiums and in meetings that called for humanity to rise higher.
This morning as I stood in line to vote, I thought about the great sacrifices made for me to exercise this right. I thought about the marches, the sit-ins, those K-9 dogs unleashed on the innocent while fire hoses sprayed, and the death that loomed amongst the trees that now hold the fall foliage.
Voting is deeply rooted in my DNA; it is bigger than me or the ballot. I stand on the shoulders of women and men who died that I might have life and have it more abundantly. I stand with that duty etched in my heart because I am the dream and hope of my ancestors.
One of the most iconic images of my life was seeing the rooftop rescues during Hurricane Katrina. For days, many of the residents of New Orleans were stranded on top of their homes waiting for someone to assist them. When the Coast Guard arrived and lowered the rope to lift those forsaken by the storm, they yelled two words to them all. “Reach up.”
As simple as it sounds, these two words teach a powerful lesson. You have to assist in your rescue. Be it a helicopter off the roof, a life preserver in the middle of the ocean or casting a vote in the ballot box; you are a part of the rescue mission.
This life and the decisions made in it are bigger than you and I. They weave the fabric for all of us to walk safely and lovingly in humanity. Stop looking around and asking for permission to be great. Decide and give notice that living the life of a changemaker is your birthright. We are the ones we have been waiting for; stop wishing, hoping and praying for change and become it.