It does not take much to become lost. When driving, especially without my Odessa (my handy dandy GPS), driving can be an adventure. As a college freshman or as a graduating college senior, my mom was inundated with calls, pleas, prayers from me–I needed to find my way. Being lost can be a very real and physical event, or being lost can be very philosophical.
There are other ways where we could be lost, get lost, or lose sight of something: we can lose track of time; we can lose sight of the good things right in front of our eyes; we can get lost in work, family, or mind-numbing things; we can hideaway from the world–in effect, there are a varied of ways where we can practice the art of being lost.
No matter how I am lost or how deep in being lost I am, I always find my way back. I find my way because of people; folk who, at times unbeknownst to them, shine light to my path–that could be a relative, a friend, a stranger, a child, or a colleague.
Two individuals, in particular, fit this bill. They gave of themselves often and frequently. They sacrificed for countless others and me. In the last couple of weeks, Mississippi has lost two of its greatest state leaders in Senator Bennie Turner and Senator Alice Harden.
According to now United States Representative Alan Nunnelee, “Bennie Turner had the ability to calm troubled waters better than anyone I served with in the Legislature.” Congressman Nunnelee continued, “Where ever I stood politically, I always respected his position.” Of Senator Harden, who became the first Black woman elected to the Mississippi state senate, Governor Phil Bryant said, “Having served in the Mississippi Senate for 24 years, Sen. Alice Harden was a pioneer for civil rights and a staunch supporter of public education.” When it was needed, between the two of them, trouble was averted, and instead, they brought with them reason, logic, passion, and a love to improve all of Mississippi.
These two may be viewed as great Black leaders; frankly, they were two of the best leaders to grace the halls of the Mississippi state legislature, regardless of race. They put the “public” in public service–because of their selfless service, they shone light to my path. No matter which side of the political aisle you may sit, we all would be remiss not to return the favor to these two champions: today I lift them up and shine light on the people behind the titles, the work, and the tireless sacrifices and demands that come with being a leader. Today I shine light to the legacies they leave behind. For without them, we would be meandering and wandering aimlessly—they shone lights to all of our paths.