This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a pillar of the South Seattle community and a truly unsung hero, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his neighborhood and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.
“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”
– Nikki Giovanni
By Marcus Harden
Recent pop culture has placed Black Women at the forefront of the conversation, showcasing their abilities to be beautiful, bold, brilliant, unapologetically rooted in blackness — and of course to be what they’ve always been: Heroes.
If you’re fortunate enough to be in the Pacific Northwest, there are three women who are the real-life embodiment of the Dora Milaje or the adored ones.
Carlina Brown-Banks embodies utilizing knowledge for powerful change. A woman who found the courage to embark on a second career to become a vigilant champion for children and families in the Puget Sound Region, the content of knowledge she holds is only overshadowed by her passion and heart.
Carlina consistently and unapologetically holds others accountable to their best selves, using her time, talents and treasure in her platform to uplift those who need a lift, a consistent voice for the voiceless. Other industries' loss was the gain of so many black and brown families, her fingerprints unknown and unseen by many as she navigates space and blazes a trail we should all be grateful for.
Blazing trails and using innovative thought is no secret to Lindsay Hill either. A powerful voice for change in the educational space, Lindsay consistently uses her platform to lead new thought around how systems, whether they be educational, non-profit or business, can best serve marginalized people.
One of the most powerful attributes Lindsay displays is her unapologetic nature and her willingness to "call a thing a thing.” When she sees wrong or injustice being done, she does not stand by idle. Whether that means speaking up to challenge even the most “liberal and woke” institutions, whether that means traveling cross country with her family to stand beside people opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, or whether that means challenging the institutions that pay her bills but can’t feed her soul, even if that means standing alone.
Lindsay embodies the spirit of Dr. King's belief that “injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere,” and few are greater champions for justice than her.
We all know being a champion is not a singular duty or act, and that being a champion for change and being a champion for others is one of the best titles one can hold.
Mia Williams may hold the title as undefeated and undisputed champion for communities, families and what she affectionately and passionately calls “her babies.”
Mia has been the leader of what has been transformative educational change for most of her life. The work is transformative not solely because of her incredible leadership, intellect, intuition, heart, passion and commitment to excellence.... yet in conjunction with all those, Mia believes and ministers her belief that the children and families don’t enter doors broken or at deficit. They already are and have always been enough.
Mia is a champion because she reaffirms for students and families what they sometimes forget: that they are champions, too. They are the heroes of their own story, because Mia leads and shows them the way.
She has been nationally recognized for her leadership and work, which is well-deserved. If you desire to find her though, she’s in the halls, side by side with her team, hugging a student, giving recognition to a family and locking up long after the night janitor has left as she continues to fight for the best in each and every one of her students. She believes in the best in them and gives no less.
These three women are real-life heroes, no red carpets or special effects necessary. They are phenomenal women and they are Black History, Today.