Silver Rights Academy participants reflect on experience
From July 22 -24, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, in collaboration with Operation HOPE, First American Financial Corporation and Lionheart Leadership, held its inaugural Silver Rights Academy program. This intensive three-day leadership development program for aspiring young leaders provided instruction and practical application in the areas of leadership development, community engagement, financial literacy and sustaining communities. The Academy hosted rising junior and senior college students, offering valuable insights from leading professionals and practitioners in both the public and private sectors. The program challenged students to interact with other top-flight students and foster thought-provoking dialogue about how to equip the next generation of leaders for success.
A few of the program participants reflected on their experiences:
The first Silver Rights Leadership Conference Academy was successfully implemented by The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Operation HOPE, Lionel Savage and Karen Collins. This was presented before 21 students of color, gathered from universities and colleges across the country. I, Danielle Lockett, was one of these students who felt overwhelmingly satisfied with the three-day agenda of lectures on social justice issues, financial literacy, and helpful tips on building a professional network. The entire conference was led by black CEOs, professionals, and political leaders. Day one kicked off with a simple introduction of embodying leadership, economic and financial enlightenment, and our cohort assignment. Day two, included a reintroduction of what it means to be a leader, a tour of the Atlanta Beltline, and a lecture from social justice trailblazer James Carr. Day three ended with presentations from each student cohort of their strategic plans for the nonprofit organization that each group was assigned to. There was so much to learn in such a short time, but the first Academy was still successful. I would have to say this was the most rewarding and provocative event I participated in during the entire summer. - Danielle Lockett, Susquehanna University
My favorite part of the Silver Rights Academy would have to be the tour of The Center for Civil and Human Rights. The “sit in” interactive portion of the tour stuck out the most to me. After about 3 seconds I wanted to get out of the chair because it made me very emotional. To be able to hear and feel the way that people used to treat African Americans really hurt my heart. It is one thing to know about what happened, but it’s another thing to be able to experience it a little at this museum. I believe all African Americans should go through the “sit in” experience because it may cause them to understand more about what actually happened and it may touch them enough to make them always be kind to others no matter what. I also really loved the artwork in the museum. The pieces in the museum tell a big part of our history and make one feel thankful for the life one has today. I am so happy that I had the opportunity to tour this museum and be a part of the Silver Rights Leadership Academy. I loved the Academy because top names in the business industry came to speak to us out of the kindness of their hearts. All of the professionals that came to speak with us were such an inspiration and now I have new role models to look up to. In addition, the case studies that we worked on taught me so much about community involvement and planning. Altogether, the Silver Rights Leadership Academy taught me about my history and provided me with valuable information on how to be successful. I also learned how important leadership is and I made friendships with other like-minded leaders. I will always remember this experience! - Patricia Woods, University of Southern California
We are at war. However, this war is different. We won’t be using guns, bombs, and weapons to kill. We won’t be needing our military, our armed forces, or our Department of Defense. We are the soldiers and we make up the military.
The top 1% of Americans may be ignorant to the war we are entering, but the remaining 99% of Americans will not be shocked when a battle hits their home front. This is the battle for economic justice.
For people who look like me, they may fall on the battlefield and never get up. Many of these people came to the battle with no artillery and no strategic plan, because the American system set our lives up so we would never receive the artillery and or understand the plan. Thus, millions of Black Americans will be stricken by economic warfare with few tools to get back up.
After having the wonderful opportunity to participate in the Silver Rights Leadership Academy under the direction of Ms. Deborah Richardson, Mr. Lionel Savage, and Ms. Karen Collins, I know that I now have some tools to fight in this war and I have the soldiers who have come before me to share knowledge and understanding from their journeys. Unfortunately, most young Black people do not have this support and thus, their “silver rights” are at stake. As Mr. John Hope Bryant phrased it, “silver rights” refers to the fight to ensure that economic success is attainable for the working poor and undeserved. The war will not be won over night, but each day as more minority families live unbanked and face house foreclosure, the war will be on our own home fronts. We are all responsible and after this week with the Academy, we are reminded of our responsibility to protect and reclaim our nation’s home fronts for those who may not be able to protect themselves. - Tyra Beaman, Spelman College