November 22, 1963 President Kennedy was shot. Where was I? I had just turned 9 years old. I was in the 4th grade at McKinley elementary school in San Francisco, California. My teacher was Mrs. Johnson. I remember someone came to our classroom door and signaled for her to come out. When she came out she just said ‘Oh, my God’ and she started crying. She was trying to fight back the tears as she told us that President Kennedy had been shot.

And as a little black girl living in San Francisco I didn’t know the full effect that this assassination had on me until later in life. Later on when Martin Luther King was assassinated and then Robert Kennedy also was assassinated, and then it became clear to me that the message that I received from these three assassinations was that if you really try to help people and do good in this country, and especially helping poor people, helping black people, helping disenfranchised people, that, you’re going to be killed. And if you’re a black leader, willing to speak out, we will shoot you down.

In my life I have been called upon to be a leader and I know that that the assassinations have carried on inside me, this is how it impacted me. knowing that when you speak up, maybe someone may want to kill you or they may not try to kill you physically, but they can use words, or they can use discord, but other people, slander and all kinds of things against you, when you’re trying to do the thing that’s right. So I understood at an early age that just because you’re speaking out to do something good, your intentions are good- Even if you get results and the results are good or even great, that doesn’t mean that everybody is going to be happy about what you do.

So as we remember President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was a very revered President in his day, that we must remember that whenever we step out to do something and that’s just being ourselves and walking in our purpose and doing good in this world while we are here, that there will always be somebody to try to shoot us down and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical bullet, it could be something verbal. It can be any kind of impediment to be put in your way, just like our President Barak Obama is experiencing today with so many political people who have been negotiating for years, but they don’t want to negotiate now. So he’s stepping out to do something great and he has all kinds of opposition. But you know, he’s still doing it, and I hope that despite the dreariness and sadness of something so horrible happening like this assassination in our country’s history that those who hear my voice will be encouraged to know that we still must do that thing that we must do and despite what others…how others may respond, react or not react or not respond, we must do the thing that we must do.

Thank you for listening,