Black History Month: Who Inspires You?

 

The other day, on LinkedIN I posted inviting folks to celebrate someone who inspires you this #BlackHistoryMonth. As I thought about who inspires me every day, it turned out to be someone whose name most people wouldn’t recognize, someone not in the history books. It is my mom, Kathleen A. Benjamin.

Mom became a para-professional working in classrooms when our youngest brother at the time started first grade. When we were in Junior High, mom started going to college part time. She eventually went on to earn her Master’s in special education. During a teacher’s strike, she joined others in crossing the picket line and teaching her class, dad standing guard outside her door. She said black kids needed an education more than she needed a raise.

As a teacher, she taught our peers and their children and in some cases their children’s children.

As a parent, she taught us “By the sweat of thy brow, thou shall eat bread.” Back before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday was a federal holiday, a lot of black and brown students stayed home on his birthday. Not us through; mom made us go to school. She stopped our protests by telling us, “The best thing you can do for black people is go to school, get and education and make something of yourselves.” She and dad produced two writers, an accountant, and an engineer.

I think our youngest brother, Kenon, summed it up best when at her funeral he said: She may have only been four-foot ten, but she was a giant in my life.

Who inspires you?

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