26th I Believe Anita Hill Party

Today, the 26th I Believe Anita Hill Party will take place in Columbia, SC.  This must attend event for individuals who believe in Women’s Rights had simple beginnings.  In 1991 a group of women across various political, socio-economic statuses, religions, and professions gathered together to watch Dr. Anita Hill testify during Clarence Thomas Senate Confirmation Hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice.  The first gathering was organic and merely a method of support.  In 1992 it was decided to remember Dr. Hill’s testimony and voice it gave women with an event to mark the year anniversary.  26 years later it is still going strong.


The Author with Dr. Anita Hill (c) 2016

Last year, I had the honor to meet and personally thank Dr. Hill for her courage and speaking up on such a taboo subject.  When she gave her testimony in 1991 there weren’t standard workplace rules dealing with sexual harassment.  It was an unspoken rule that as women there was a chance you would have to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace.  Dr. Hill’s testimony helped set the foundation for women to speak up and legislation to protect them.

With the latest Hollywood news of Harry Weinstein’s sexual abuses toward numerous actresses recently being revealed, we are reminded there is still much work to do.  Prior to Weinstein, mega celebrity Bill Cosby’s sexual abuses were revealed.  Both of these men’s accusers were sometimes questioned as to why they waited so long to come forward.  The question to me shouldn’t be about when they came forward but why must women have to continually deal with sexual harassment in the workplace?

I look forward to this day when women of all ethnicities, socio-economic background, political beliefs and religions come together to remember our shero.  A woman who carried truth and stood behind it.  She opened the way for millions of women to speak up about their own sexual harrassmsent experiences.  Dr. Hill helped set in motion legislation and workplace regulations to help provide a fair and safe workplace for women everywhere.  Women are still fighting for the right to be safe in their workplaces but today we remember and continue to believe the historic and brave testimony of Dr. Anita Hill.


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The Path of Totality

Once in a lifetime events don’t land at your front door every year.  A total solar eclipse occurs approximately every 18 months somewhere around the globe.  Today various cities in South Carolina were in the direct path of totality.  The path of totality is where an eclipse is at 100% coverage.

There are a number of friends that held events today.  I decided to attend an eclipse viewing party of a friend who enjoys meteorology and astronomy.  He had a number of friends over for what turned into an amazing afternoon.

Prior to the beginning of the eclipse, wearing our verified certified glasses we looked at the sun.  Never having looked directly at the sun it was amazing to see the orange glow.  No one looked for a long period but just enough every so often.

One of the most notable changes was within the hot & humid temperatures.  We physically felt the lowering of the temperature during the start of the eclipse.  On a regular basis we donned our glasses and would look to see the moon passing in front of the path of the sun.  During the time right before totality with glasses you could view, the diamond ring and the effect of Bailey’s beads.

Leading up to the eclipse including the transition of temperature and shadow were awe inspiring.  However, the start of the moment was when you were able to remove your eclipse glasses and view one of the most amazing moments in the universe.  Seeing the total eclipse and the corona effect from the sun was a WOW moment for all watching.  In addition looking to the left we were able to view the planet Venus…for a few minutes I felt like a little kid.

Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, you cannot ignore the amazing moment today when the moon passed in the path of the sun.  Where I stood I had 2 minutes and 36 seconds to view the total eclipse.  It seems just as amazing as when the eclipse began it ended with the sun taking back her reign again.  Tonight is a new moon and earlier today that moon showed she too demands respect.  Thank you moon, thank you sun, and thank you amazing universe.

Check out the photos taken by party host Chris McCurry using solar filters and a Pringle’s potato chip can to capture the historic moments throughout the day.


Fun & Festive Food for a Solar Event! Photo credit: J. Rose-Harris


Camera is set to go! Photo credit: J. Rose-Harris


Ready to see the sun and the moon kiss! Photo Credit: J. Rose-Harris


The beginning… Photo credit: C. McCurry


Almost at totality! Photo credit: C. McCurry


Diamond ring and Bailey’s beads. Photo credit: C. McCurry


WOW! The corona glow! Photo credit: C. McCurry


A proud moment! Photo credit: J. Rose-Harris


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Why I Love The Obamas

There have been 43 White men as U.S. President.  President Obama finally broke up the club of whiteness and added some diversity.  He is truly in all aspects of the term African-American; since he was born to a White mother from the Midwest and an African father from Kenya.  When running for office there was a dichotomy of opinion whether he was Black enough or if he was too Black.  Some wondered would the White House now become the Black House?  During all the negative rhetoric I watched not with despair but with pride to see a Black man take the oath of office to become the 44th U.S. President.  Wait, let me correct, I listened while on Pennsylvania Avenue standing in Freedom Plaza along the Inauguration Parade route just around the corner from the White House on January 20, 2009.

My journey began way back with the Obamas in 1996, when as a Clinton-Gore volunteer, I was tasked with phone banking and making down ticket calls for Barack Obama.  I didn’t know much about him except he had done organizing within his community.  He was a lawyer at that point having graduated from Harvard Law School.  He also taught constitutional law these were snippets of information provided over the course of the ’96 campaign.  It was a joyous time when on November 5, 1996, President Clinton and Vice President Gore were re-elected and Barack Obama won his first election for the Illinois State Senate.  During the Victory Party at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, getting my first hugs from Senator-elect Obama and his wife Michelle was heart-warming, yes they’ve always been huggers.

I relocated in 1997 to South Carolina, so Barack Obama was my Senator only for a short while.  However, I watched with pride when he was introduced to the world at the 2004 Democratic National Convention during the speech heard around the globe.  The most recognized part of the speech is:

“There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.”

However, one of my favorite parts of the speech is:

“If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.  If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent.  If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.  It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one.”

After hearing this phenomenal speech everyone wanted to know who is this State Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate?  I already knew and watched from that point waiting for the moment for when he would run for U.S. President.  It wasn’t a question of if but when.

Following many rumors in February 2007, in Springfield, Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama announced his run for U.S. President.  Among other U.S. Senators running were Joe Biden and Hillary Rodham Clinton.  In May 2007, I stopped by the South Carolina Obama Campaign Headquarters in Columbia, SC located on the corner of Calhoun and Assembly streets and began my volunteer efforts.  Starting off doing phone banking I knew my talent was better used in other capacities.  And over time soon became what I am known best as Data Goddess.  The Obama Campaign recreated how data as well as digital media was used during a campaign.  He created via his experience of community organizing a new mold for how to run a Presidential campaign.  With the blowout win of the South Carolina Presidential Democratic Primary, Obama and not Clinton became the candidate to beat.


Taken by Staff Photographer in Manning, SC – November 2007

Upon becoming elected as the 44th President even during a campaign where rocks and stones were thrown his way, he pushed for an agenda passionate to him.  Unlike any other President before him his cabinet was filled with powerful and capable women.  Showing the importance of women, the first piece of legislation he signed was the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act Bill.”  Over the last 8 years, President Obama has signed approximately 1,350 pieces of legislation into law.  His most famous and the piece of legislation marked for repeal by the 115th U.S. Congress is The Affordable Care Act.  Coming into the White House with a dysfunctional banking system and an auto industry near bankruptcy he made tough decisions in bailing both out with federal assistance.  Even when detractors thought this was not the better solution but time has shown it was the best solution.

There are far too many things to list regarding why I have such admiration for the Obama Administration.  However, I most respect the humanness of the President.  During addresses after shootings at Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT and last year at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida we saw a very human and compassionate President.  We also saw this when speaking about the killing of Trayvon Martin and during the numerous addresses made upon unjustified shooting of Black men and women by law enforcement across the nation.  It is the humanness, dignity, and intelligence that I most admire about President Obama.

With the incoming 45th President, I am greatly concerned about the openness and dignity that President Obama brought to the White House.  I do not have confidence in the leadership to come this is based on the vitriol hate displayed during the 2016 Presidential campaign by the Republican Presidential nominee.  I admit I am a staunch liberal and a leader within the South Carolina Democratic Party, so to many of course I admire and support President Obama.  However, I am fair and try not to pre-judge but what I have seen thus far from the U.S. President-Elect does not give me great confidence in the next four years.  I do not see an inclusive or diverse White House or one open to the public in the way the Obama Administration engaged the public.

I admit as a Black woman I have watched with pride the initiatives put in place by First Lady Michelle Obama.  She has worked for military families to getting young people moving and eating healthy to fighting for girls right to education around the globe.  Being a part of history also puts a smile in my heart.  On June 1, 2016, on behalf of the Columbia Museum of Art as their Community Member, I attended the ceremony and reception for 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.  It was hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama in the East Room of the White House.  And to the surprise of us all while in the Blue Room we saw Marine One land and take off on the White House lawn!  This opportunity seemed to be a full circle moment from when I first met the Obama’s in Chicago, Illinois.


2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service Program

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Karen Brosius, Michelle Obama, Joyce Rose-Harris – White House East Room           June 2016

Finally, I say thank you President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for your leadership and dedication to the American people.  Seeing a Black couple occupy the White House makes me proud not merely because they are Black but because they worked hard to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  There was no silver spoon for them during their childhoods but there was the knowledge of how important it is to get an education and then to uplift their communities.  I will miss the weekly addresses by President Obama and the many initiatives of First Lady Obama but I know now they will take their work to Chicago, Illinois in a year or so, putting their knowledge and activism in the Obama Presidential Library and Center.  I know there is much more awesome things to come for the Obama family.  Thank you President and First Lady Obama for showing citizens of the United States and the world how to rise higher.


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A Library Nerd’s Birthday

Today 50 years ago, I was born.  I was a few weeks early and my mom thought she had indigestion, until her water broke.  I believe from the day and hour in which I was born, until the various dates of my parent’s deaths that I was loved.  My dad wasn’t there for my birth but he was always there for my life.  Birthdays were always special and involved a chocolate marble cake with the most delicious chocolate icing created by his hands.  It is from my parents that I learned to love books and reading.  Our house was always filled with all types of books novels, non-fiction, magazines, comic books, newspapers, if it had words we read it…and hoarded it.

Due to the genetic love of books it is no surprise where I came to write this blog today.  I sit in one of my favorite places.  The United States Library of Congress, specifically in the Main Reading Room.  I have had a library research/reader card for a few years now but it still felt magical to walk through the researchers only and accessed limited hallway.  Taking the reserved elevator and entering into the beautiful and majestic space that is the center of the universe of all U.S. libraries still gives me tingles.


View from desk 334..Main Reading Room

Yes, I know most people want to spend their 50th birthday on an island or far away destination; however, I chose my nation’s capital city for this blessed day and week.  And purposely this space to write this blog post.  Washington, DC is a pivotal place for democracy even though lately there has been a stale mate among political parties.  However, I believe democracy is the better form of government.

Those who’ve followed my blog know that I support the Democratic Parties Presumptive Presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.  Today the FBI advised that there were no findings to indicate malice or ill intent regarding to deleted or missing emails.  This translates to know recommendation of criminal charges by the FBI to the U.S. Justice Department.  I never thought there would be anything found.  It is frustrating to see all the rocks that have been thrown toward former Secretary Clinton.  My belief is that strong women and ironically even those who stand by their spouses still are given grief.  I am not going to go into why I support her…you can read that on my blog “Why I Support Hillary Clinton for President”.  My reasons have not changed.

Now, I know why not talk about something other than government?  Well being born the day after the nations 190th birthday, I get giddy about government and democracy.  Oh yes and fireworks as well as good ribs and family cookouts.  Yesterday there were cloudy fireworks but awesome cannon sounds.  My husband and I attended “A Capitol Fourth” produced and aired live by PBS.  Well interestingly the fireworks broadcast were not those we witnessed.  This was a big slight on PBS for omitting this information and not being upfront.  Still I saw many amazing entertainers including Smokey Robinson, Yolanda Adams, and Kenny Loggins.


View of the Main Reading Room Dome

Looping back, I am sitting in the Library of Congress because I love libraries.  They are filled with so much knowledge and information ready for you to find and read.  I know if I lived in the DC area this would be my primary place to write and study.  I plan to return during this week but today the 50th anniversary of my birth, I had to come to this place.  I can close my eyes and smell the scent and hear the crinkle of books at my childhood library.  Fredrick Douglass Chicago Public Library in North Lawndale community is where I received my first library card.  I don’t know where the card is today but the memories are still within me.  And my love for libraries is even stronger.


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I Choose Love

Last Friday, June 10th the memorial service of the late great Muhammad Ali was televised and streamed live.  It was an interfaith service filled with love.  The memorial was planned 10 years ago under the guidance of Ali.  Friends from across many faiths including Muslim, Christian, Mormon, Jewish, Native American just to name a few gave reflections on one of the world’s greatest humanitarians.  Throughout each message there was the underlying theme of love & kindness.

Join HandsDuring the early hours of Sunday, June 12th a gay club in Orlando, Florida was attacked by a man now known to have pledged allegiance with ISIL.  50 people were killed and 53 wounded in the attack.  This attack has caused some to say inappropriate and hateful things about choices and the LGBTQ community.  This includes the Lt. Governor of Texas who tweeted a Bible verse “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” – Galatians 6:7 NIV , he has since deleted it.  I am not a Bible scholar; I am however a Christian who believes in the golden rule.   “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31 NIV and “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1 NIV

Having friends within the LGBTQ community makes the massacre in Orlando, Florida more real.  It could have happened anywhere .  It could have involved friends who’ve been in committed relationships over 20 years and just recently able to legally marry.  These are not people following a free lifestyle…they are in monogamous relationships.  For those who would remove their judgement glasses and really look they would see regular ordinary people.  They are lawyers, doctors, teachers, law enforcement officers, fireman, military personal, bakers, and every other profession.  Most importantly, they are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, cousins, brothers, sons, fathers, uncles, and friends.

Whether it is religion, race, gender, or sexual orientation judging others to the extent where you believe it is your duty to kill or hurt them is wrong.  Hating someone for their beliefs is illogical to me.  I have stayed silent for longer than I should have.  I didn’t publicly speak up during the same sex marriage nor during the bathroom debates.  I have not posted anything during various pride events.  But the hateful murder of people enjoying themselves regardless of if you agree with their life choices is wrong.

With this post I stand as an ally to those who seek to love whom they choose.  Two consenting adults seeking the love of each other or the same with two young people I choose not to judge.  Ultimately love is the answer and will shine through hate.  The aftermath from acts of terrorism usually bring love.  It rises above the devastation and gives all those accepting of others hope.  We will never always agree but let’s stop judging each other.


Finally, this Friday will mark the 1st year anniversary of the Charleston, SC nine massacre.  Nine Christians were murdered after Bible study in their church.  This included the pastor of Mother Emmanuel AME Church who also was a Senator.  With quick effort Dillon Ruff was found and charged with the murders.  During the initial hearing the families of the nine victims forgave him.  I confuse, I don’t know if I would have been able to do that so soon.  They allowed Christian love to overcome what I imagine was a numbing grief to say the words, “I forgive you and may God have mercy on your soul.”  These family members and the example of Muhammad Ali who embraced all faiths and beliefs, should be a constant reminder of agape love.  Love will always, always, always overcome hate.


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A PaisleyPerspective on Prince

prince-passport-photo-prince-rogers-nelsonThree weeks ago from today, on Thursday, April 21, 2016 the planet lost one of the most innovative musical talents of this generation. Prince Rogers Nelson was found unresponsive in his Paisley Park home and after attempts of CPR was pronounced dead at 10:07am. I heard the news from my husband and was completely in shock, sitting at my desk not knowing what to say. I felt numb for the remainder of the day with questions of why and how swirling in my head.

Since his death rumors and investigations surrounding a drug overdose have been circulating. The autopsy was completed quickly but an offical report is still forthcoming. In the meantime all the rumors of why and how Prince died are media speculations. I was thinking how to speak about the various rumors but realized I didn’t have the experience of what Prince was coping with regarding the pain from years of amazing dancing and performances. Then a dear friend posted the perfect words and experience on her Facebook status. I share these words with you.

“As we age, more and more of us have so many medications for what ails us that we end up with those ‘Day of the week/ AM-Noon-PM’ pill boxes to keep the dosages straight. My adult son refers to my pill case as my ‘Drug Advent Calendar’. He manages my meds because I get tired of fighting with the packaging and resort to ripping everything open with my teeth, since, I don’t want to take the pills in the first place, because I hate the side effects.”

“Our doctors are quite happy to dispense whatever the pharmaceutical companies are pushing that week. It is up to our pharmacists, us, and our loved ones to make certain that Drug A is compatible with Drug B. The drugs that I am meant to take to reduce ear aches, maintain my balance, fluid levels, and phantom pain are so strong that I stopped taking them during the day. I would take them after dinner, and from 2012 to 2014 I have only my son’s version of events to confirm what I said or did from 8pm to 8am during those years. I have no memories of those nights, whatsoever. Dog walks, films seen, conversations – I have no memory of any of it. Half of what my doctors have prescribed is illegal in South Korea, where I work, hence, I have weaned myself off of these meds in preparation for an extended visit to country.”

“Going deaf hurts. Some days my ears hurt so bad that I would take pill after pill in search of relief from the pain. By pain, I mean the sensation of being stabbed in the ear through to the other ear with a hot metal kebab skewer.  This is while also feeling like someone is trying to loop a crochet hook around the electrodes behind my ear to pull out my cochlear  implants, out of my head through my nose. All happening, while I fall over with vertigo and throw up. Falling while being sick is a bad combo. Yes. Like that, only worse.”

“If you have ever had an ongoing illness, the thing you want most is decent advice about pain management. Unfortunately, pain management generally involves a level of talking therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. Sadly, I’ve yet to live in a country that will spend money on mental health when a pill can be prescribed. Few doctors, and I mean private health care, even offer pain management as part of a treatment.”

“I was given some pills once to try to cure any bacterial infection that could have been causing my rapid hearing loss. Tramadol, I later found out that it’s given to heroin addicts as a substitute. I remember that weekend vividly. I hallucinated that I was flying. I could clearly see the top of my kitchen cupboards and realized that my housekeeping was lacking as I could see every speck of dust on top of the cupboards and fridge. My son called my doctor. His advice? “Ride it out the drug trip to kill any bacteria.” When I see my specialist I like to remind him of the time he forced me to have a bad drug trip.”

“Another time I was given a new medicine that made me ill for hours. I was on the bathroom floor for so long that I considered having my mail forwarded there. My veins hurt, My blood felt dirty. My son flew back from out of the country to go to the doctor with me.  I was technically treated for an overdose even though I had only taken the prescribed AM and noon dosage – 2 pills over 5 hours – before I felt as if I were dying. A different pill, a different meal, a different drink – even a new shampoo -it can all cause a bad drug reactions.”

“Not everyone on strong meds is a likely drug addict, and people with chronic long term illnesses are not necessarily drug abusing junkies when they over-medicate and things go wrong. Such as…Heath Ledger? I had pneumonia. I would have taken anything available to breathe, so I can see how Prince may have overmedicated and died. I know aging people, stuntmen, dancers, and people who stand all day who sometimes have really bad days of chronic pain every damned waking moment. They take one more pill to try to cope with the pain in hopes of feeling ‘normal’, in search of that feeling when your flu passes and you can breathe normally and your body doesn’t ache, that joy of not being at war with your physical being.”

“There’s a man who danced like a dervish in heels for years, doing splits that I couldn’t manage when I was a cheerleader. Is it any surprise that he had hip and back issues and was on a medically prescribed course of potentially dangerous meds? Your back hurts. Your hip probably hurts, too. Cut people some slack. Aging is painful and it lasts longer than it ever has in the history of man. Take the high road. Don’t speak ill of the dead.”

I agree that aging is not fun. We all think that we will be fine when we are older. Then it creeps up on us a few aches and pains and then seeking relief. As was stated above even the most astute doctors can miss potential drug interactions or prescribe a dosage that will negatively impact us. Prince Rogers Nelson was known by his inner circle to be excessively particular with what he put into his body. He was a vegan and practiced yoga. I do not nor will I believe his death was due to inappropriate use of drugs. Like my dear friend said, I will not speak ill of the dead. Prince may you rest in perfect purple paisley peace.


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Rule Number One, From My Mom

My mother’s number one rule was always treat people with respect.  Her advice is reflective of the golden rule that can be found in many cultures and religions.  Treating others as you wish to be treated is something said by mothers in all parts of the planet.  China, India, Africa, England, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and in other nations children are taught this simple but powerful message.

be-kind-blogSpecifically, my mother would say that individuals in the service industry can be your greatest allies.  Food service, custodial, and administrative workers were whom my mother referred to often as people who can help you.  I learned the truth in her lessons during my undergraduate college years.  While attending college many times when money was tight a food service employee named Teresa ensured I did not go hungry.  Custodial staff allowed friends and I to study while they cleaned up as long as we didn’t “mess up”.  I now better understand that the “messing up” they referred to was not always literal.  What it meant was for me and my fellow African American classmates to study hard and earn our degrees.  My numerous trips to the financial aide office and other university offices also showed how patience and respect for clerks helped me get assistance quickly…often before those who’d been waiting for hours.

My mother died five years ago but all the lessons she taught me over the years have served me well.  Recently there have been legislation put in place in North Carolina called the transgender bathroom bill.  The law states that the gender on your birth certificate should correlate with the bathroom you use.  However, transgender individuals who have not yet had full transformation can be put in an awkward and possibly dangerous situation.  The idea is supposedly to reduce the chance of lewd behavior or sexual assault specifically against women.

The same insensitive bill was presented in South Carolina, where I reside.  Within a week LGBTQ activist came together to organize a protest.  They attended legislative hearings and gave testimony on why the bill is a bad idea.  One of these people is a poet and friend.  I shared her post on Facebook and stated the following:

“This is my friend she is transgender.  She’s a poet and I use to be afraid to speak to her.  She may not know it but I was.  It wasn’t because of anything she did but my own isms and what I thought others would say.  I admit I still am wrapping my head around the idea of someone being physically born one gender and seeking to change it.  However, I do empathize with those of the transgender community.  They like others of the LGBTQ community have no physical interest in those outside of their community.  They aren’t trying to get you, your man, or your woman for that matter.  I’m still learning but one thing I believe is the bathroom bill is a bad idea.  The SC General Assembly needs to focus on infrastructure for the remainder of this session.  This is what matters most to me.”

When I wrote the message, I felt a little nervous.  But then I remembered my mother saying to always be kind.  I heard my father say speak your truth and don’t be afraid to say what is right.  The idea behind any bathroom bill is reminiscent of the Jim Crow laws in the early and mid 20th century.  The reality is that many individual/single bathrooms are used by both genders.  Without being able to indicate exactly how many instances have occurred where a person not of the gender or even transgender have attempted to use a restroom opposite their gender is not quantitative.  Sadly, criminals and those meaning others harm will get around any bathroom law.

I have always chosen to work toward the betterment of society through activism for art, political, and women’s issues as well as human rights issues.  It is disappointing to know that there are elected officials seeking to hold back any gender or race.  Here in South Carolina crumbling roads, education, and jobs are what I believe to be most important.  I strive each day to be my mom’s legacy and to be kind to everyone.  I think my mom would agree.

This video illustrates that the message of kindness transcends language barriers.  Grab your tissue and give it a watch.  Kindness begets…kindness.


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