For the Family of a Pasadena Born and Bred Georgia Graduate
This past weekend we traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to watch our daughter-in-law graduate from college. Makini is the wife of our youngest son, Jamal, and the mother of two of our grandchildren, Joshua and Kyla. Her graduation comes a few years after their marriage and it was sweet to watch her march down the aisle to receive her Bachelor of Arts degree from Agnes Scott College. She made us doubly proud. She graduated with honors.
Agnes Scott is an all-woman's college in Atlanta with a motto that describes it as "The World Of Women." Just as Morehouse is an all-male college and Spelman is all-female, so Agnes Scott is a women's world. I couldn't help but think of the people who think there should not be all-Black colleges and wonder what they think about the one gender schools. I don't see the problem. The point is to get an education, and if that means with the support of like-minded folks just like you, then that's okay too!
When you have been raised in California, and you have heard about the troubling legend and history of the south and are above fifty years old, you can't help but be surprised by the diversity of this small, private college. The class of 2012 graduation ceremony was held outside on the lawn of their beautiful campus. The red brick buildings so typical of the South were punctuated by a beautiful wooden chapel building and cement sidewalks leading everywhere. Of course the almanac predicted rain and it did rain slightly, but it did not dampen the spirits of those who had worked hard to achieve another of life's defining goals, an education.
The racial diversity included Asians, Blacks throughout America and from Africa, Jamaica, Haiti, and of course one from Pasadena. The sign language interpreter was a signal that this was a more complete diversity, as were the signals that gender preference was there, judging from the Lesbian club banner, Muslim Student Association and the Sista's Club, presumably for Black students. There were graduate names that told the story of diversity, like Ashley, Aisha, Elizabeth, and Shamaka, Fatima, Hawa, Emily Tan, Khalillah (and of course Makini).
They were all there, and in spite of the exclusionary history of the South, you knew that America would be okay, because these women are on their way to rule the land. They have rubbed shoulders with all races and colors from Black, Brown, Beige, Yellow and White and expanded the sisterhood of America.
The speaker for the day serves as president of Ann Inc., one of the Fortune 1000 companies. She was proud of having graduated from the all-women's school, herself, and was proud that 93 percent of the staff was female. She told the graduates that she had reached the pinnacle of the business world, and they were now prepared to do the same. However, she reminded the ladies that all is not well and that while women have reached a certain equality in the workplace, they have not yet reached parity as far as salary. She admonished each to maintain a healthy balance of paranoia and humility as you focus on what you want to achieve and who you want to love and maintain in your life.
The music of the day, being sung and played by musicians with hair styles ranging from long, ethnic locks (dreds), to blonds with bangs, further tells the story that these women will be ready to conquer the world. One memorable song that was sung asks the question, "Where Are You Going My Little One?", as they were encouraged to go forth to help empower others by mentoring.
For me, it was encouragement that this school was obviously set up by someone who saw a need to educate women, and filled that need. That should be a motto in life for us all. We certainly need more schools like Agnes Scott.
Congratulations to our Makini!