Looking to the past to move forward

On Monday I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Zenobia Hikes speak at Dodd Auditorium and I am glad that I did go.

Hikes is an inspirational speaker and her speech applied to everyone universally so it wasn’t just geared towards college age students or black people.

Here are some points and ideas that struck me from her speech:

1) For people of my generation (the millennial generation / generation y) there has always been diversity. There has always been Blacks in Hollywood and in sports and there has always been a black Supreme Court Justice. The country has gone from not allowing a black woman to try on a pair of shoes in a store to having malls full of shoe stores where anyone can shop. Before my generation came along Blacks were not allowed to vote but now P. Diddy is encouraging people of my generation to get out and vote. It’s not that our generation is apathetic we are just unaware of the struggles that have gone on before us because we did not experience them.

2)It is important not to deify Martin Luther King. Hikes told us a story about how when MLK was younger he and his brother did not want to take piano lessons so before the piano instructor came they loosened the screws on the piano bench so that it would collapse when someone sat on it. Everybody laughed at this point because to imagine this person, this great man, as a mischievous young boy is funny. This story is not only humorous to imagine but it proves a greater point. MLK was still a human and to make him anything more would take away from him because he is an example of how anyone can make a difference. If we only say great people can make a difference then we are rejecting the idea that we too can do great things and ultimately hurting any cause we may support.

3)She mentioned “The World Is Flat” (woo!) and that one of Friedman’s main points is that in order to compete in the future education will make the difference because now we have comptetion from other countries. She gave some startling statistics on poverty and other issues and connected it back to the importance to education.

4)There are things we can do to make a difference and change things:

– We need to elevate our conversations (above talking about the latest episode of a TV show, among other things)

– Use your circle of influence to start change (talk to friends, family, people at school)

– Start having conversations with people we disagree with (MLK did it all the time)

– Community service

Of course my brief summary does not do Dr. Hikes speech justice and I hope that if you did not get the opportunity to hear her speak hopefully you will in the future.

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1 Response to “Looking to the past to move forward”


  1. 1 Gardner January 17, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Good summary. I was struck by many things she said, but especially by the need to elevate the conversation and to converse we people we disagree with. Both of those needs cost nothing and can be met right away, but they’re very, very hard to do. I hope UMW can help us all find ways to get motivated to get over those barriers and address those needs.

    Thanks for blogging on this event!


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