Simply put: All lives matter. As a black woman, I’m truly affected by the Black Lives Matter movement. Unequivocally. A native of Wichita, I strive to be an active participant and supporter in the communities that I serve, and proudly celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion for all.
As president of the Wichita Professional Communicators, I stand beside the black community and all others in the movement against racism, bigotry, hatred and violence.
For months now, I’ve deliberated on how to approach this subject as an individual, WPC president, community advocate, senior citizen and independent contractor. The time is now to let my voice be heard.
New inspiration came when I heard Morgan Freeman read what the iconic civil rights leader John Lewis stated in The New York Times essay titled, “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation.” “… it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state.
“It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself. Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what he calls good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Thank you, Mr. Lewis, for all that you did for me, and I hope my works will never be in vain. My prayers are extended to your wife and family who lifted you up many times in your endless, unselfish fight for human rights. On a local level, you are like one of my strongest mentors in my life: the late Gordon Parks.
If you haven’t studied the life of Parks, then you can’t understand how this native of Fort Scott, Kansas, has impacted my life and career. Parks was the first black photographer for Life magazine, author of “The Learning Tree,” composer, filmmaker, recipient of many honorary doctorates, producer and director of “Shaft.”
Parks, known as “the Renaissance Man,” will be one of my lifelong mentors. He used his camera as his nonviolent weapon to make a difference. Everything Parks stood for and fought against inspires me to do more each day. I’ll be on my dying bed re-righting wrongs that I can while using my voice fighting for educational and civil rights for my grandchildren. Those five children along with my many nieces and nephews and those adopted during my lifetime matter to me. Included in my extremely long list are the TRIO Communication Upward Bound students whom I worked with for eight years at Wichita State University and continue to communicate with today through the annual reports to track students to discover if they pursued and completed a post-secondary degree.
As an independent contractor, entrepreneur and lifetime member of the NAACP, I have a perfect platform to deliver a message of equality. But it is up to each of us to decide if we want to extend this message beyond our own circles. It’s easy to talk about it at the right times and in front of the right people. However, can you be proactive and do something different and meaningful in your life? We have an opportunity to be on the stage for change — by listening to each other and working to foster understanding and mutual respect.
In the midst of all the social media and technology, we sometimes forget to show respect, be kind and listen. Just shut up sometimes — I even say to myself! Breathe … meditate and just listen to your heartbeat. That throbbing sound comes weak, soft and strong just like your voice can be when speaking out against prejudice, racism, sexism and any inequality. It’s a lifetime mission of WPC, the Kansas Professional Communicators and the National Federation of Press Women to adhere to a code of ethics. We support the First Amendment, develop our professional skills, network and “nurture the next generation of communicators.”
As a former member of the Virginia Press Women (VPW) back in 1973 while working at The Ledger Star in Norfolk, Virginia, I worked hard in the predominately white, male newsroom for my right to be there. Hired in for the women’s section, I worked harder to earn my front-page stories that hang in framed silver frames in my home. My first awards came from contests sponsored by the VPW and NFPW.
Back then, and still today, there are a small number of WPC members who look like me. Sometimes I wonder what’s on their minds when it comes to equality, freedom and respect. It matters to me that our organization is not more diversified, and I try recruiting new membership all the time.
The economy and ever-changing industry can be blamed for a lack of minorities in the communications field. An improved membership with people of color — both men and women — would be welcomed. During my 50+ years in this industry, I have experienced a lot on the lonely road in America’s newsrooms. I survived and will continue to do so. It really doesn’t bother me because I have tough skin and keep my big girl britches on all the time — that’s how my mother Essie raised me.
She told me “to give them something to talk about; always give 150% and then some. Keep God in your life first and foremost, and you’ll always be a winner, my child Wilma. You always asked so many questions and I never could give you all the answers. Go get that education that I didn’t get.”
Unequivocally. I have a secondary education degree from Kansas Newman. My journalism and mass communications degree along with my ABD (All But Dissertation) status for my PhD in curriculum and instruction are from Kansas State University. With all the degrees and lifelong education, I am still black. And I’m proud of whom I am and that matters to those who love me.
— Wilma Moore-Black