I can remember about two months ago talking to Phillip Jackson, as I posed a question to him that I’ve been asking dozens of people like Father Pfleger, Shelton Smith, Dr. Conrad Worrill, Eli Washington, Victor Love, and others.
This is something that I’ve also been pondering very seriously as I travel down my expected journey of being a transformational agent and a mentor to many. The question is, “How long do (I) plan to engage in this kind of work?” “When do (I) anticipate stopping or even slowing down the sacrificing of my life in order to serve?”
Phillip’s response, when posed with those questions, was “Until I die!” Damn!
Yes, Mr. Jackson recently passed away due to complications from Cancer. But Phil was a tired and beaten man. Not physically beat up but mentally worn out from all of the committed years of pursuing excellence and attempting to push, persuade and/or even force parents to dedicate their lives to their own children.
I saw his struggles. We applaud Mr. Jackson for his tireless efforts! Some even volunteered to assist in his daily battle to raise much-needed funding from stingy organizations and foundations who saw his and others work as valuable but they didn’t truly believe in spending resources with little Black boys and girls.
Phil produced this disparity study that highlighted how much foundations invested in White organizations versus agencies like the Black Star Project and other agencies serving at-risk youth, and the difference was staggering. Phil called me to write about the results of his study and we scripted copy together about the foundations’ disrespect in their giving.
Phil walked the articles and the results directly to the doorsteps of each foundation that he researched. Yes, he was blasted by the very foundations, but in the end, he forced them to invest more charitable dollars. This particular fight was rough on Phil. It called for all his strength to mount an attack and to withstand the massive pushback.
It’s battles like the one Phil waged against the foundations that really prompted me to give serious consideration to how long I wanna do the work that I’m doing through my digital platforms and also behind the scenes fighting for equality and equity. I’ve been questioning myself almost daily. Each night when I retire to bed from a long day of chat sessions, debates, meetings, confrontations and researching my TRUTH, I ask myself…..”how long will I continue to fight?”
It was coincidental that Father Pfleger’s response was the exact same as Phil. He stated that he has been in the struggle for over 40 years and he would do this work until he can’t anymore–until he has no breath left in his body. Others I mentioned also expressed the same. Only Shelton couldn’t really give a real gauge given the fact that he’s only 30 years old….. LOL.
I started to examine this scenario/question early this year while observing certain individuals in the Civil Rights struggles. It’s what led me to script that article a few months back about the iconic and faithful servant Rev. Jesse Jackson. I expressed how he should ease up and take a back seat to the struggle. Yes, no one can do what he does, but at least step aside and give others a fighting chance.
Actually, regardless if anyone can execute formidable battles equal to Rev. Jackson is really beside the point. He served his community and his God for long enough, walk away and spend some time doing nothing. It might feel quite relaxing. I know, as I’ve been told by his inner circle, what else will he do? It’s all that he knows!
These questions I presented to select freedom fighters was a way for me to also gauge my time in the struggle. I’m contemplating when is it my time to pause my fingers, shut my mouth and mind MY business, only. TRUTH BE TOLD, I’ve made my mind up and in the very near future (2-4 years), I plan to leave the game.
I don’t wanna be a burnt out old ass trying to save the world. Today, I feel completely comfortable knowing that I’ve done more than enough. My God is pleased with me. Hopefully, a slew of emerging visionaries have been watching my multitude of steps and are aspiring to walk as I’ve traveled. That to me is the true test of transformational leadership.
I wanna quote someone who I dislike, but his statement made perfect sense when he announced his decision to not seek re-election: “This was a (journey) of a lifetime, but I don’t wanna make it a (journey) for a lifetime.”
Carl D. West is the CEO/Publisher of TBTNews and founder of the TRUTH 4 Literacy Foundation, Leadership Luncheon, Legend and Pioneer Awards, all powered by Midwest Gap Enterprise.