Johnnetta B. Cole Explains the Power of the Noah Principles

Age-old story inspires mantra for success

Johnnetta B. Cole

Johnnetta B. Cole

In 2008, Johnnetta B. Cole addressed the third annual Women of Power Summit and roused the audience to their feet during her powerful discussion about the Noah Principle. Here, Cole speaks with Black Enterprise about it.

Johnnetta B. Cole: Let me set it for you, set the stage. I gave a talk a number of years ago, and I was doing my litany of all of the things we have as challenges. Racism, sexism, there’s war, poverty–that was basically the talk. And when I turned to the audience for Q&A, this extraordinary African American–I will never forget him–raised his hand and said, ‘You made a pretty good speech. But you know you need to start practicing the Noah Principle.’ So I said, ‘Well, my brother, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I grew up in the south in an African Methodist Episcopal Church so I certainly know who Noah is, but what is the Noah Principle?’ He said, ‘It’s simple. There will be no more credit given for predicting the rain; it’s time to build the ark.’ That’s it. Since that day, I have been committed to never laying out the issues and problems without also suggesting how we can make it better. It’s a wonderful expression.”

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