Who Is Your Woman of Power?

They existed long before there was a Summit. Mine is my mother, Enid Jackson.

My sister Jane, my mother Enid, and me during a birthday cruise for my mother a few years ago.

As I sit on the Greyhound on my way to Palm Springs for the Fifth Annual Women of Power Summit, I can’t help but think about the powerful woman who helped me get where I am today. Enid Francita Jackson, my mother.

She is not a corporate executive, or a businesswoman, or an MBA. My mother was educated in the school of very hard knocks. She emigrated from Jamaica to the United Kingdom in the 1960s and then to the U.S. with small children alone. But what she does have in common with women with those credentials is her fighting desire to give her children a good education and a future.

And she did. One daughter is a deputy district attorney in California and a homeowner, another daughter is semi-retired in London, and the other daughter is me.

Enid instilled the value of an education, self-respect, and independence in her children. She has empowered me and others with her determination and fierceness in the face of adversity. Certainly it is easy for me to say my mother is a woman of power. But as I look at her life over the decades she has earned the title over and over again.

I will never forget one of her mantras, “Pride feels no pain,” meaning, swallow your pride and do what needs to be done. Whenever I get too big for my britches, I repeat that phrase — just as she often repeated it to me.

My mother is a woman of power because she was able to surmount numerous obstacles to ensure her — and her childrens’ — success. She is the CEO of our family and is a role model for her strength, compassion, and experience.

Tell me dear reader, who is your woman of power, and why?

Deborah Creighton Skinner is the editorial director at BlackEnterprise.com

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS! Join us for the landmark 10th Annual Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit hosted by State FarmMarch 2–4, 2015, at Fort Lauderdale Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Fort Lauderdale, FL. This exciting, one-of-a-kind executive leadership summit is designed to train, equip and encourage women to become industry leaders, learn career strategies, and discover proven work–life balance techniques. Register Now! http://www.blackenterprise.com/wps

ACROSS THE WEB
  • Chris

    My women of power start with my wife, mother and extends to all women of Color. I believe they are our hope. The stats speak for themselves:

    * Joblessness for 16-to-24 year-old black men has reached 34.5
    * 1 or 3 Black American males in the United States can be expected to be jailed during his lifetime, according to a recently released Justice Department report.
    * Blacks are 14% of the American population but account for 70% of all inmates.
    * There are more Black men in jail than in colleges.

    Every Black family is living those grim statistics. I believe the solution is in the Mother of Mankind herself – The Black Woman.

    * She was chosen by God the Almighty to be the Mother of his Beloved creation.
    * She has the experience of ruling mighty African dynasties for hundreds of years. (Michelle Obama has the genes of this royal linage and may be President Obama’s best source of sound counsel and possibly our country’s salvation.)
    * She remained strong while they ripped her children from her loving arms and sold them into slavery to the highest bidder.
    * She was our support after the savage whip of the slave master broke our backs in the hot cotton fields during the days of legalized slavery.
    * She has been our support holding our family together while we were locked up.
    * She continues to be our support even when we abusively misdirect and vent our frustration caused by our inability to financially support our family.
    * She continues to be our support even while being more educated and earning more money than us.

    More than ever we need our Wives, Grandmothers, Mothers, Sisters, Aunts and Daughters to help us to survive these challenging times. I don’t know about you but I have started saying “I’m sorry” to as many Black women as I can; I even created a card to help http://www.MyForgivenesscard.com/about It might see over the top but these are grave times and need them more than ever.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Alfred Edmond, Jr.

      WOW.

  • Victoria

    My woman of power is Dora Akunyili. As the Director General of NAFDAC (Nigerian FDA), Akunyili survived multiple assassination attempts in order to reduce the percentage of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in the country from 70% to 30%. After several bribery efforts failed to sway her conviction, she was forcibly re-appointed to her current position as Nigeria’s Federal Minister of Information & Communication, where she has emphasized a Rebranding Campaign to secure the trust of investors that can fuel Nigeria’s critical infrastructural needs. Despite the President’s efforts to hold power even while deathly ill outside of the country for three months, Akunyili released to the senate last week a highly controversial memo demanding that the government forcibly and constitutionally abdicate presidential powers to the VP, again at the risk of her own assassination. She is an example of integrity and courage, she holds Truth above her own life, and she is my Woman of Power.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dora_Akunyili

    • http://blackenterprise.com Alfred Edmond, Jr.

      And again I say: WOW.

  • Jane Creighton

    I have to agree with the woman who wrote the “Woman of Power” article as she is my sister. It takes a strong woman to hold a family together and be the solid foundation on which her children can “build their house”. As a Deputy District Attorney, I see way too many Black males going off to prison. What brought them to that point was a long time in coming. Yes, the absence of the father from the home but also the lack of a strong woman in their life to pick up the slack. Way too often they are left to raise themselves. An impossible task in this day and age. That is why, like my sister, I say thank you to my mother, the strongest woman I know.

  • Jumoke

    Grace is her name. She left her parents and new born daughter in Nigeria to seize an opportunity to come to the United States to join her husband and potentially make a better life for their children to come. (She and her husband were married before he came to the states for school. He applied for two visas however a visa was not granted for the baby until many years later.)

    ****
    She dealt with culture shock while trying to find a job to support herself and ended up working in a garment factory for many years. Fast forward 14 years to when she had 5 more children, obtained her first degree in college, took care of her husband, and received her LPN and cosmetology licenses.
    She later went back to school and became an RN while supporting/caring for her children, paying college tuitions, maintaining her beauty, and keeping her home and spiritual life in order.

    ****Grace and her first to be born in the the US, me, were in school at the same time. However, Grace also worked at a hospital during the day (alternate days) and at a nursing home at night. She did this for 30 years. Today, Grace continues to work to support the last of 6 children to go on to college. She gets about 4-5 hours of sleep every day. She also balances her marriage and time for her children all the while encouraging everyone to put Christ first in their lives. What an example for her son and 5 daughters. My mom, the ultimate woman of power.

  • http://www.no-offseason.blogspot.com L. Dijon Anderson

    My woman of power is my wife, Paula A. Anderson. A mother of two, she has built herself up as a strong business leader. She has been in the mental health field for over ten years. After being employed as a clinical therapist by a number of schools, she decided to launch her own business, Pace Consulting, LLC. She has done extremely well and is looking to expand her business after only two years. She has been a true inspiration to me and this family. I will make every effort to get her to this summit.

  • http://www.style-root.com Trina Morris

    Such inspiring stories! Mine is about a woman of power named Anna…

    Raised btw poor and working class, Anna’s mother told her on the day she graduated from high school, that she’d be attending classes with her (the following Monday) at the Madam CJ Walker Beauty School (in Indianapolis, IN). “There was no summer break for me, honey,” as she often tells me. It was straight to work as a rising beauty professional. Together, Anna and her mother (whose name was also Anna) graduated from MCJW beauty school, and opened their very own salon, Trice’s Beauty Shop, in the heart of downtown (1940s).

    To think of how my grandmother- Anna Trice Morris- worked alongside her mother and became quite a successful entrepreneur in such a racist/sexist state and time, still gives me chills. How she was able to raise three sons, remain active in her church, AND build a thriving salon… ALL WHILE her husband (my grandfather) was overseas for 36 months in WW2 is beyond baffling to me.

    I think about the enormous struggles I experience daily in running my boutique PR firm, Style Root Inc. (style-root.com), and can hardly fathom what it would be like with a distant husband/Soldier at war, three sons and a mother (as my business partner) in tow. MY GOD!!

    I can honestly say the my discernment, diplomacy, unwavering faith, positive outlook and hard work ethnic are strengthened every time I think of my woman of power, Anna Trice Morris. How she was able to discern what battles to fight, what priorities to make and keep, and what dreams to NEVER give up will be in the forefront of my mind and heart FOREVER.

    I have also learned/realized that one of my grandmother’s tips was keeping other ‘women of power’ around her. She knew the importance of sister circles, spirituality and empowerment. I believe that’s what kept her beauty salon going for soo long (and of course- all of the fabulous coifs, presses and curls!!) Women felt her loving spirit and she felt theirs! Power!

    Today, our Web 2.0, social media and new wave communications have put an overwhelming pressure on the pop culture paradigm- particularly creative and community professionals (my PR clientele). As I fight to promote their passions, I accept that these are my generation’s reality/struggles. Definitely not WW2 (present wars don’t light a candle to that- sorry!), undeniably overt racism and sexism (keeping it real… ours is waay more covert), marriage and child-rearing (delayed but definitely not denied!)- as were my grandmother’s.

    However, in witnessing her triumphs- family (2 sons that attended college- and one of those colleges an HBCU; 1 son that went to military.. yet ALL 3 becoming entrepreneurs in their lifetimes), business success/retirement (she rcv’d a healthy buy-out from the State of Indiana, due to dntn city planning), profitable investments, good health, true happiness, GREAT style, and of course… unwavering faithfulness (remains a Sunday School teacher; rcv’d Mother of the Year at her church in 2008)- I KNOW I can be like her when I grow up! ; )

    Its a blessing to have/feel her living spirit… as a family-oriented, God-fearing Black women, entrepreneur, and dare I forget… a Lady ; ). I love to still be able to call her (we actually just spoke this a.m. ) and talk as ‘women of power’. She advises me, slows me down, reigns me in and builds me up in the softest, sweetest tone.

    When you can be a WOMAN/LADY (in the broadest sense), and still have what you want and deserve… that’s POWERFUL!!! I love you, Gran ; )