By Kelvin Willis, Dunn Road Manor Community Manager
I have been in property management for over 20 years, many of those years spent working with older adults. And if those 20 years have taught me anything, it’s that everyone has a story to tell and everyone’s story can impact others. For me, Black History Month brings to the forefront the need to learn about these stories as I think they inform us about where we’ve come from and where we need to go.
I’m blessed that when growing up I had some great teachers within my integrated school, that not only invested in me, but also encouraged me to be curious about the stories of others. I will never forget my communications teacher. She would take us to a restaurant called The Other Mother in Soulard, St. Louis. That experience exposed me to different ethnicities, types of food, and ultimately taught me to find and appreciate the stories of people.
In honor of that, I attentively concentrate every February at the start of Black History Month with a list of books and articles about black individuals. Michelle’s Obama’s book “Becoming” was very insightful, especially in light of this year’s inauguration of the first black woman vice-president. When you see firsthand someone like Vice-President Kamala Harris in that position, that’s very powerful. Think about all the children and adults (black and white) that she will inspire! That inauguration was very moving for me and I’m excited to one day read her whole story, while living with it present day.
Books are a great way to hear the stories of others, but there’s also ways that we can participate in events to hear the stories of our neighbors and community. During non-COVID years, my church has put together an African American Showcase. We hear stories from those in our community, churches, and surrounding areas as they share pieces of their lives. Some of our younger members contribute by reading poetry or performing African dances. It’s a way to celebrate and be intentional in showcasing the rich stories we all have.
Walt Whitman once said. “Be curious, not judgmental.” I think if we can be curious about the stories of others, taking the time to see the world from their perspective, that’s what’s going to make us a better world.