It is incumbent on us all to keep the life and legacy of our heroes and sheroes alive. If we desire for the next generation to know and embrace the history of their forefathers (and foremothers) the buck stops with us. We have such a lady that Americans should be aware of, and especially Southern Californians, and her name is Biddy Mason. Women from different generations will gather on August 10th to pay homage to the woman that was born a slave in Mississippi, became a freed woman in California, and made history along her journey. Biddy Mason’s roots run deep throughout what is now downtown Los Angeles.
Ms. Mason was brought to California by the Mormons as a slave and she originally resided in the San Bernardino area before settling in Los Angeles. She is credited with many talents including being a nurse, as well as a real estate investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She also founded the First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church in her home. This woman was a pioneer who believed in making a difference and leaving a legacy behind that showed her footprint. Making sure our next generation of millennials are aware of this amazing woman and the contributions she made to society, Diane Mitchell Henry, founder of The Women’s Group of Greater Los Angeles County (WGGLAC), the Honorable Aja Brown, Mayor of Compton, the Honorable Jan Perry (Retired) along with the Cynthia Perry Ray Foundation, will celebrate the 5th Annual Biddy Mason Legacy Gathering by also honoring young millennial women for the contributions they are making in our society and community today.
WGGLAC believes that many of today’s millennials mirror the character of Biddy Mason through their ambition and confidence, and they are unafraid to question authority while serving their community. They have a new form of social activism. Just as they must honor those that came before them, we must support and encourage them as they move forward in the world. Biddy Mason was just 30 years old when she made her historic 2,000 mile walk from Mississippi to California. She invested her mid-wife earnings in downtown Los Angeles real estate and became the first wealthiest Black American woman in Los Angeles. Ms. Mason advocated for the poor and the incarcerated population – two groups still underrepresented today. What could our young people do if they knew we had their back to help improve the world?
Diane Mitchell Henry, Founder of WGGLAC says, “The Celebration is a platform to pay homage to the legacy of Biddy Mason by honoring millennial unsung sheroes and empower them to embrace Biddy Mason’s perseverance. As the founder of Forgiving For Living, Inc., an organization formed to empower young ladies with positive self-esteem and to provide them with the tools to believe in themselves, I too believe that it is important for us to teach our young ladies their value and that they have a powerful voice that can turn into action that brings about change.
Biddy Mason once said, “If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come in. The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives.” We need to open our hands and take the hand of a young lady that is coming up behind us and not only show her the way, but also stand beside her on her journey. We must sow into the lives of the next generation and empower them with the tools they need to succeed. It begins with us.
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