Opinion: At Leading Women Defined, Inspiration Is Everywhere You Look

Opinion: At Leading Women Defined, Inspiration Is Everywhere You Look

The theme of the summit is Power, Presence, and Possibility, and I encourage all the women here to make it their mantra.

Published March 16, 2011

Sonia Sanchez (left) and April Woodard. (Photo: BET.com news)

I press through the maze of womanly divineness, smile when my pardon needs to be begged, arriving to the front of the room. I’m eager to get a lasting moment with Sonia Sanchez, who just tickled our ears and enlightened craniums with her prose at the revival for Black women. She greeted me, delicate body bowed, hands praying, “Hello, my dear sister.” In an instant, her warmth caressed me like a baby to a breast. It was as if this was my first day at school, all adorned in conscious fanciness, fit only for making a first impression—an apprentice before a scholar. Not to tower over my dear sister’s tiny frame of greatness, I pulled off my six-inch stilts, displaying that we are similar.

What I experienced last night was duplicated many times over during BET’s second annual Leading Women Defined summit in Washington, D.C. We began the gathering by giving back, exposing both inhibited and daring young local girls to what they could achieve in a few years. 

Sprinkling inspiration during the Dorothy Height luncheon, Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, reminded us, that if you like to breathe, you too are an environmentalist. Honoree, Susan Taylor gave us nuggets of acumen and In the Spirit revelations, then summoned the spirit of our late civil rights matriarch, Dr. Height, who only just a year ago attended this same summit.

As the mother of two school-age children, public school education is close to my heart. I moderated a discussion and brainstorming session with the newly appointed Chancellor of D.C. schools, Kaya Henderson; Digital Youth Network founder, Dr. Nichole Pinkard; and NAACP chairwoman, Roslyn M. Brock. Panelists shared their differing views on how to transform the American education system that is failing so many Black children.

The theme of the summit is Power, Presence, and Possibility, and I encourage all the women here to make it their mantra. As the conference winds down, I am saddened to have to wait another year until I can spend time with this congregation of sisters and worshippers of courageous women again.

Cherish the journey.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

Written by April Woodard

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