Juanita Floyd

JUANITA FLOYD

Imagine a young girl sitting in a classroom with students who don’t look like her. Imagine a young girl not getting invited to school birthday parties because of her color. Imagine a young girl confronted with hateful acts from other young girls and boys. Imagine the many talks from her mother telling her to love and not hate. Imagine the mother talking to the young girl about Dr. King and his nonviolent actions as a way to deal with hate. Imagine being told that it was important to get an education. Imagine the young girl was told that at the age of 18 you must register to vote. Imagine being told that men and women died, were beaten, and were put in jail to help the young girl and others to achieve their civil rights.

Imagine the young girl graduating from Northeast Mississippi Community College and Ole Miss. She was interviewed numerous times by companies and was rejected. Finally, a white man asked a question, “Why can’t we hire her?” Because of that one decision, that young lady’s life changed and improved.

Later, her boss called her in and asked her, “Would you like to attend a meeting at the Southeastern Council of Foundations in Atlanta? The meeting will revolve around the Pension Protection Act of 2006 and the effects of its related regulations that affect donor-advised funds and supporting organizations.” She gladly said, “Sure.”

The young lady went to the SECF office and was told the delegation would meet at Representative John Lewis’s office. The young lady discreetly went to the restroom and emotionally cried – what an honor! As a little girl, her mother told her about the history of the Civil Right icons – like John Lewis fighting for their rights. The girl had read about those icons and studied their works. She never imagined that she would get to sit in a meeting with him! She sat at his conference table and conversed with him.

After the meeting was over she had an amazing opportunity to simply thank him and hug him for his sacrifices over the years to help all people. She said to him, “Because of your and others’ efforts, I have had an opportunity to be educated and am able to have voting privileges.” Later, the delegation, including the young lady, flew to Washington for a conference. Mr. Lewis was the keynote speaker. His speech was riveting and empowering. {span}She even has a copy of his speech. After the session was over, the SECF delegation had the opportunity to eat dinner with him. The young lady got to sit at the head table with him and took pictures with him.

Mr. Lewis asked the young lady where she worked and where she lived. She told him she worked at the CREATE Foundation in Tupelo. She grew up in the city of Blue Springs and lived in a community called Red Hill which is close to Tupelo. He said, “I have fond memories of a minister from Tupelo named Tommy Lee Miller who helped me many years ago when I came through Tupelo.” She didn’t know the minister. When she returned home, she asked her mother and sister about Minister Miller. They told her all about him. Rev. Miller was one of the pastors in the community at Red Hill Baptist Church! In fact, Rev. Miller came to her mother’s house on several occasions when it was time to ‘take the preacher home for dinner’.

JUANITA FLOYD is the vice president of finance and administration at the CREATE Foundation and a community columnist. Readers can contact her at juanita@createfoundation.com.

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