Never Stop LearningRead Now
This past Saturday, I spoke at the Fort Clark Historical Society’s monthly meeting. If you read my article last week, I confessed that I was a little nervous about speaking. I am happy to report that it went well, and the audience was gracious and kind. Afterward, I had the opportunity to speak to many of the attendees. They asked very interesting questions and made engaging comments. That Saturday evening, I couldn’t help but think about all the information that I still don’t know about the subject I spoke about.
I spoke about Miss Charles Emily Wilson and the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association. Something that I’ve learned as president of the association is that it is impossible to know everything, but I’ve also learned that that shouldn’t stop me from striving to learn as much as I can. I’ve learned that it is better to have too much information than not enough. That way, you can pick and choose what you need, instead of grasping at straws. So, I’ve decided that I am going to recommit myself to learning more about the history of the Black Seminoles, the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association, and Miss Charles.
The idea that learning and curiosity should vanish once you reach a certain age was debunked a long time ago. Luckily, we live in a time where we can continue our education, whether it is in a classroom, with a book, or with a computer. We can explore ideas and interests that might have once seemed out of our grasps. I’ve learned that the only obstacle to learning more is my desire to do so. I’ve decided that learning and gaining more knowledge is as vital as breathing. As long as I have the ability, I will do my best to improve upon what I know and, especially, what I don’t know. I’ve always seen myself as a student. I wake up every morning and, after thanking God for allowing me to see a new day, I wonder what I will encounter. I wonder what will I experience. I truly believe that it is possible to learn something new every day, a new word, a new recipe, or a new dance move. The only thing that can happen is that you discover something that you did not know, that you see something in a different way, that you become a better you.
Note: This blog appeared as an article in the 3/2/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.
Wade in the WaterRead Now
This week, I will be giving a presentation at the Fort Clark Historical Society’s monthly meeting. It is entitled “Wade in the Water.” To say that I am nervous is an understatement. Even though I’ve been working on my presentation for months, as the time draws closer, I can’t help but feel a little frightened. I’ve heard that feeling nervous is natural. And of course, there are several techniques that can help to combat these feelings. I’ve been employing them.
I am also really excited about sharing this information with everyone, and I am really happy that the Fort Clark Historical Society has invited me to do so. I am looking forward to talking about Miss Charles Emily Wilson and the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association (SISCA). Both Miss Charles and SISCA are very near and dear to my heart. As a Black Seminole Scout descendant, I’ve learned that it is very important to tell their story. Every time I get an opportunity to, I do so.
I originally gave a very abbreviated version of this talk during Seminole Days last year, but there was a lot of information that was left out because of time, so I am honored that I’ll have the chance to expand on what I had written initially.
Miss Charles was someone that I admired greatly. She was our matriarch. She was a phenomenal speaker, writer, and historian. Storytelling was something that she excelled at. So many of the things that she told me still live in my head. Her elegance and wisdom has never left me, and I hope to impart some of that during my talk.
I’ve been a member of the Seminole Indian Scout Cemetery Association for most of my life. I’ve been an officer for many years as well. Currently, I am the president of my beloved SISCA. Since I became president in 2013, we’ve done many things that I hope will have a positive lasting effect on the association. I plan to speak about that and how SISCA came about.
Needless to say, a lot of my late nights and early mornings have been fueled by coffee. Over these past few months, I’ve felt like a college student preparing for a huge final exam. It’s been terrifying and exhilarating. Even though I know that I will be in a room filled with familiar faces, the butterflies in my stomach keep reminding me how nerve-wracking public speaking can be. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to this exchange. I know that everyone who attends will be interested in what I have to say. They will be a receptive audience, and I really couldn’t ask for more.
Note: This blog appeared as an article in the 2/26/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.
The Power of MusicRead Now
Jazz musician Duke Ellington famously said, “There are two kinds of music. Good music and the other kind.” It goes without saying that “good music” is subjective, but I believe, it is important to find music or create that moves your soul.
From the time that man was able to speak, he was also able to sing. When he learned how to make sound, he began making music. Harmony and rhythm are an integral part of our experience. When we are in a happy, celebratory mood, we play music or we sing. When we are sad, music is there to provide solace. For the past few months, I’ve been researching Negro spirituals, and while I thought I already knew a little about the power of music, I have realized that I have barely scratched the surface. In times of unrest and uncertainty, music has been used to build bridges and to communicate in a way that speaking or writing cannot. In music, our hopes, dreams, fears, and strength can be found.
For instance, Negro spirituals served a number of functions, and they still do. On the surface, many of these songs were viewed as Christian or religious songs. They were sung while enslaved Africans worked. It helped them to track the time and to pass the time. They, of course, were sung when they worshipped. Most importantly, they were also used to send messages to each other. If the enslaved Africans were planning to escape, every single thing they did could lead to their plans being thwarted, so they used their songs as a way to send coded messages to each other.
How can you deepen your relationship with music and benefit more from it? Instead of being a listener, try becoming a creator of music. There are so many instruments. There is, quite literally, one for everyone. And, of course, there is your voice. Without judgment, criticism, or comparison, try singing in your home, in your car, and experience how good it feels. Making music is excellent for your health. It challenges your brain and your motor skills. Music is powerful. It is magic. It is universal.
Note: This blog appeared as an article on 2/16/17 in the Kinney County Post.
The Super BowlRead Now
On Sunday, like 100 million other people, I watched the Super Bowl. I am not a football fan, but I was interested in this game because it was the biggest game of the year. What I learned watching this game is that you should never count yourself out.
At the half, the Atlanta Falcons were in the lead with a score of 21-0. I was thinking, Well, this game is over. But I was very wrong. The Patriots rallied and won in overtime with a score of 34-28. The whole time I was thinking, How? This was a history making game.
Tom Brady and company were truly impressive. Even though they were behind, they remained calm and played their very own brand of football. And little by little, they chipped away at the Falcons’ lead. By the fourth quarter, when the score was 21 to 28, I, like everyone else was wondering, How did this happen?
It happened because the Patriots never gave up. They could have easily given up after the first half, but this deficit became their motivation. In the second half, we saw a completely different team walk onto the field. They rallied and won a nail-biter that turned out to be the first Super Bowl game to go into overtime.
Along with the Super Bowl game, the life of Frederick Douglass can also serve as a source of inspiration. Because it is Black History Month, Mr. Douglass’s life and achievements are being reexamined by many. Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery. He escaped and went on to become an abolitionist, suffragist, and diplomat. He was also an amazing writer and speaker. He wrote several autobiographies. They are still in print and are highly recommended reading.
If one were to have predicted Frederick Douglass’s life, the last thing that would have been foretold was that he would have ascended to the heights he did. Many people who were born into slavery died in that unforgiving situation. Those who escaped very rarely raised their economic status. Douglass, therefore, was an anomaly. He was also an inspiration. During his life, he did what few black people were able to do. He escaped slavery. He learned to read and write, and he used that knowledge to fight for the freedom and rights of others.
Life is wildly and wonderfully unpredictable. Just because things might not be going the way you wish they could be now does not mean that they cannot and will not change for the better very soon. You must keep striving. You must keep pushing forward.
Note: This blog appeared as an article in 2/9/17 edition of the Kinney County Post.