The Empowerment Experiment has progressed from the website and the media to the streets and suites, from the computer and TV screens to a growing following in the churches, conferences, wine-tastings, networking receptions, dinner parties, and university halls. Now that we have taken this turn—now that we are talking to more and more of you directly, learning and sharing with you face-to-face—we are really starting to feel, for the first time ever, what a movement feels like. Strangers are hugging and crying, some remembering the ’50s and ’60s, some hurting about the present-day, and others hopeful about future.
We started EE because we knew there are so many more out there like us. Folks who care and want to do more. We felt like our generation has fallen short of our duty, like we’ve recklessly, lazily dismissed our purpose, our place in the ongoing battle for economic opportunity and social justice. We are corrupting the legacy of our ancestors and the dynamism of our heritage. EE is a chance to make up for that. Through EE, we want to do something unprecedented and inspire something outdated. We want to inspire that now near obsolete feeling of empowerment, hope, and solidarity that we had in the Civil Rights Movement.
But how do you do that? Are we doing enough? And are we doing it right?
Some of you know that after college, I began my career as a speechwriter. And as a progressive, I often use quotes from famous civil rights leaders like President Kennedy, W.E.B. DuBois, and Dr. King.
So as I write these speeches about making a movement, I try to find the good ole Rev. Dr. King quotes to help me poetically and poignantly communicate that point. But maybe a quote isn’t good enough this time. I mean, if EE is the beginning of an economic empowerment revolution… If we are going to pull this off… If we are to truly make a difference… If more of my people will start thinking about how important it is for us to support one another… If Black people are going to gain control over their own fate and start proving, everyday, our magnificence to the world, instead of just reminiscing about it every once in a while… If we are going to transition into a movement manifested by actual results… then a Dr. King quote is not enough to make it all happen. His very spirit needs to consume me, my husband John and EE.
So I talk to him everyday. Dr. King tells me that even though he and Rosa Parks and all the other heroes did so much, I don’t have the luxury of giving up, or giving in. I no longer have the right to live the empty and easy life. I can not choose between Living his Dream and Fighting for his Dream anymore.
King says EE needs to be much more than a call for increased awareness and pride. What we need now is something that goes beyond a call for more optimism, consciousness, and hope.
Dr. King says that patience and optimism alone will not get us to The Promised Land. He taught us to temper that patience with a little passion. Back those prayers up with some planning. Justify that optimism with some industriousness and results. Activate and hasten all those awesome hopes with some vigilance.