Black History Today: Rashad Norris, more than meets the eye...

Black History Today: Rashad Norris, more than meets the eye...

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Cal Bonner, a true artist blazing his own trail

Black History Today: Cal Bonner, a true artist blazing his own trail

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Justin Cheadle, lifting others up to change their lives

Black History Today: Justin Cheadle, lifting others up to change their lives

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Adrienne Decuire-Packard, purveyor of family, advocacy and justice

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


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“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”
-Michelle Obama


By Marcus Harden

If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, there were varying images of who Black people were and how they lived. We could be movin’ on up, or busy pitying the fool or maybe even asking, “Did I do that?”

However, one of the aspirational staples of a young childhood in that era was seeing the image of a Black doctor and a Black lawyer having functional, everyday-life conversations and promoting Black excellence. Claire Huxtable served as an image for many to aspire to.

While Claire inspired a generation, we needed real examples in our lives to truly know what could be possible in a field that many times doesn’t look like it’s meant to serve us. Adrienne Decuire-Packard is that reality of Black excellence — a fictional image come to life.

Born and raised in Seattle to a large biological and extended family, Adrienne is a proud alumnus of Garfield High School and the University of Washington, and her passion for justice is evident upon meeting her.

Adrienne is the personification of passion and joy, and it was her passion that pushed her across the country to pursue her dream of becoming an attorney at the prestigious Howard University School of Law. Through trials and triumph of charting unknown territory, Adrienne graduated and passed the bar, along the way finding time for love with her supportive husband, Darryl.

Her passion would then spread to different cities, Boston and Chicago, where Adrienne would serve as a voice for the voiceless in civil rights matters as a staff attorney for the American Bar Association. Eventually she married her gifts of advocacy and education together, becoming the Associate Director of Student Affairs at the University of Chicago Law School — in service of all students, yet fiercely creating pipelines for women and students of color.

For Adrienne, the adage “You can’t go home again” doesn’t apply, as in 2015 she was offered to return to her second home — the Mecca, Howard University School of Law — as the Director of Student Affairs, utilizing her passion to fulfill her purpose of servant leadership, shining as a realistic example for others to see and be.

Adrienne's passion for the profession and for creating pathways within it are only exceeded by her passion for her family. As a loving daughter, inspired little sister and proud big sister, the art of love was shown to her at an early age. She manifests that art as a powerful wife and loving mother to her three incredible children.

Because of women like Adrienne, we don’t need made-for-TV accounts of powerful Black women living fully in spaces that we once never saw and thought possible. Her advocacy to help shape and create better environments and opportunities for Black women is inspiring, and her ability to balance those as a 3D model for living life's purpose and passion is astonishing.

If the scale of justice is the pursuit of a perfect balance between love and advocacy, then Adrienne pushes those scales to change the world for the better days, which is why Adrienne Decuire-Packard is Black History, today!

To learn more about Adrienne’s work: http://law.howard.edu/

Upendo!

-MLH




Black History Today: Lull Mengesha, inspiring innovator and influencer

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


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Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.
-Will Smith


Living life fearlessly and authentically are values often espoused but rarely actualized. Not because people don’t have the desire or the skill, but oftentimes because we’ve rarely paid attention to the people who have done it. To live absent of fear is almost impossible, yet to choose to live a life allowing your fears to fuel your passions and doing it in a way that inspires to do so as well — that’s authentic living!

Lull Mengesha lives authentically and fearlessly! Born to immigrant parents in Seattle, raised in the glorious South End, proud alumni of Rainier Beach High School and later the University of Washington, Lull has never been afraid to embrace thinking and being different. Lull began to discover his fearlessness as an undergrad at the UW, beginning to openly challenge his own thinking and the shortcomings of systems, specifically for African-American people and people from the African diaspora.

Lull’s strength coming in his nature to engage others across difference in those conversations, questioning not only the systems of oppression but people who have been oppressed themselves, realizing early that the breaking down of one requires the empowerment of the other.

In 2009, Lull penned his first book, The Only Black Student,” exploring life as a Black student navigating the public education space in a majority Black school, and then learning how to navigate life and academics at a college that was predominantly white. Fearless in his honesty and introspection, Lull used his life to create an actionable workbook for others to follow.

Lull’s greatest attribute may indeed lay in his fearlessness to just be. Whether gracing the stage at a local comedy shop, writing a screenplay, hosting a vegan Eritrean food talent showcase, exploring and bringing new technology and thought products to market, or just Snap-chatting his Uber driver journey to a $39 Spirit Airlines flight to parts unknown, Lull’s commitment to truly LIVING inspires others to do the same.

At his best, Lull brings the environment of authentic thought, fearless living everywhere he goes, and through his constant joy pushes others to the possibility of the same for themselves. He is unafraid to challenge the status quo because he is unafraid to challenge himself. He’s a son who honors his mother, cherishes his sister and truly is a friend to all.

Lull gives of his time, talent and treasure in ways seen and unseen. Fear looks Lull in the face and lowers its gaze because it knows as we all do now that Lull Mengesha is indeed Black History, today!

To learn more about Lull: https://www.amazon.com/Only-Black-Student-Lull-Mengesha/dp/0578023091

Upendo!

-MLH



Black History Today: Tia, Shadeed & Khalil, a reflection of of a mothers love in her suns.

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.


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How beautiful if nothing more

Than to wait at Zion's door

I've never been in love like this before

Now let me pray to keep you from

The perils that will surely come

See life for you my prince has just begun

And I thank you for choosing me

To come through unto life to be

A beautiful reflection of his grace

For I know that a gift so great

Is only one god could create

And I'm reminded every time I see your face

Lauryn Hill, To Zion

By: Marcus Harden

As parents, you realize there is no handbook on raising YOUR children. Parenting is a collection of wisdom, acquired knowledge, intuition and when done right, unwavering and unconditional love. While the stereotype of single parenting in the African-American/Black community is a bit overhyped (shout out to the awesome families and fathers out there!), the reality is being a parent without the full benefit of a partner is hard.

The reflection of that hard work often times lays in the countless seconds, hours and days that go into the full-time job of parenting. Yet as that reflection becomes clearer, the greatness of that hard work begins to shine.

Tia Shabazz and her two reflections of greatness, Shadeed and Khalil resonate that light. Parenting isn’t about perfection, it’s about the pursuit of a perfected love that manifests in your children but first manifest within you.

A Seattle native, Tia’s love for herself manifest in her everyday pursuit of authentically being better for her family. As a young single mother early in her journey, fighting through those stereotypical stereotypes to lean on her family but most importantly herself and her faith, she walks the journey of parenting for and with her sons.

Her commitment to them no more evident than knowing at any and every event, ceremony and academic endeavor possible, she would be there. The manifestation of her motherly love was in being there for her sons, she became a mother for others sons (and daughters).

Her energy manifested in her oldest son Shadeed, light, and personality so immense that he truly radiates through any room he enters. Whether it be his unique voice, his infectious smile, his loyal heart or the perpetual motion (with or without music) he manifest that portion of her reflection.

Shadeed a proud member of many championship basketball teams at the world-renowned Rainier Beach International Baccalaureate High School (aka Crown Jewel of the Southend, the Hall of Fame on Henderson, etc).

Shadeed brings that energy with him in his constant pursuit of bettering himself, now in his third year of college still pursuing his dreams yet also beginning to reflect deeply on his passions and sharing that with others, not perfect yet in pursuit of purpose.

The other shard of light from a mother peaceful and introspective, reflection in Khalil, currently a sophomore attending the University of San Francisco. Utilizing his talent as a basketball player to pursue passion and purpose as well (also an alumnus of RBHS), Khalil’s greatest attribute is in his quiet resolve and his acceptance to the call of servant leadership.

In a world filled with young people who spend time yelling “look at me”, Khalil while rarely raising his voice is always yelling, “no, look at you!”. The consummate teammate and supporter, on and off any court he steps on.

Inspiring in an age of reality family drama is the two brothers genuine love and admiration for each other. Not a trace of jealousy or envy, even though their personalities and paths may differ, they stay connected through unashamed support, admiration, and love for the other. They find themselves in each other, the definition of the old parable;

“ I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see. I sought my God, but my God eluded me. I sought my brother and I found all three.”

The true beauty of this family is the embodiment of their love together. Tia doesn’t shy away from her sons being her world and in return, they orbit around her emanating light of two stars shining brightly. Maybe, the most inspiring of their family growth was as Tia preached and practiced the value of education to her sons, her pursuit of more education for herself, enrolling in and completing college and further education alongside them.

Tia, Shadeed & Khalil are representations of what parenting and family are, growing and learning together, always together. They are what is possible for any young family, a single-parent family who wonders can they do it, the Shabazz families answers, yes you can.

It won’t be easy, there will be tears, disappointment, doubt, and heartache. Yet greater than all of those will be love and joy. Living testaments to how it can be done. Tia, Shadeed, and Khalil are pieces of living testimony of what’s possible, one mother and two bright and shining suns, they are joy, they are peace, they are love and they are Black History, today!

To support and learn more about the Shabazz family: https://www.facebook.com/mamateescakesandpies and thelifeofiball on Instagram

Upendo!

-MLH


Black History Today: Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen, creating space for brilliance

Black History Today: Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen, creating space for brilliance

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Brayon Blake, a reflection of present greatness

Black History Today: Brayon Blake, a reflection of present greatness

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Jamal Crawford, superstar mentor and hometown hero

Black History Today: Jamal Crawford, superstar mentor and hometown hero

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Anita Koyier-Mwamba, brilliant mind and beautiful spirit

Black History Today: Anita Koyier-Mwamba, brilliant mind and beautiful spirit

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: D’Vonne Pickett Jr., fearless dreamer at home in Seattle's South End

Black History Today: D’Vonne Pickett Jr., fearless dreamer at home in Seattle's South End

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Dawn Bennett, empowering educational activist

Black History Today: Dawn Bennett, empowering educational activist

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today: Bookie Gates, a local hero with a bat

Black History Today: Bookie Gates, a local hero with a bat

This post is part of an ongoing Black History Month series written by Marcus Harden, a truly unsung hero of South Seattle, as he honors the living legacy of Black history in his community and beyond, and recognizes the people who are shaping the future.

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Black History Today 2019: An Introduction

Black History Today 2019: An Introduction

The Black History Today series began as a way to honor the everyday heroes in our communities who live selflessly serving others without the fanfare they deserve. Please join me in celebrating these wonderful people by commenting, sharing your stories of them and sharing in the love of those who are indeed Black History, Today!

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Black History Today: The Reeses and the Tiplers, living embodiments of Black love

Black History Today: The Reeses and the Tiplers, living embodiments of Black love

When I think about role models of “love” as we know it — not in the heart shaped boxes or the hallmark cards, but in that true connection that endures — honestly, so many pairings of people who have made the choice every day to love and honor each other come to mind.

The narrative of Black love being dead is yet another sad narrative that lacks full truth. That said, when I think of couples that exhibit what it means to love, two come to mind.

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The Full Series: Black History Today 2018, by Marcus Harden

The Full Series: Black History Today 2018, by Marcus Harden

I want to thank all who allowed me to honor and showcase them for Black History Month. The daily posts started as just a personal letter to people whom I believe to be truly amazing. We often wait too long to tell people what we think of them and their effects on us and our lives.

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Don't let them distract you. Rise up.

Don't let them distract you. Rise up.

I've mostly kept quiet about the Parkland shooting, because it feels like the last thing we need is more empty words or more voices shouting angrily into the abyss. Today, though, I find I have something to say.

This nonsense about arming teachers is a distraction, and we need to stop giving it the time of day. If the people clamoring to give teachers guns were serious, they would be working on legislation. They would be taking action in some way. But they're not. They're using the ridiculous idea of arming schoolteachers to keep us on the defensive, to keep us worried that things might get even worse, which keeps us from working as single-mindedly on real solutions and real change.

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