Editor's Note: These comments on Black History Month and inspiring Black Americans were collected by Dr. Primrose Cameron, a columnist for The Beacon, and Sean King, founder of Man-Up Mentoring, during their visits with young students around the community.
Alaysia L. Williams
Three African Americans who have inspired me:
1. My mom, Natalie Williams, the first African American (along with her sister Pam Williams) to integrate Long Lake Helen Elementary in Lake Helen.
2. Mae Jamison
3. Mrs. Brenda Cusack
Rodney Hill Jr.
The African American who inspired me to be great is Garrett Morgan, a successful businessman and inventor. He invented what are popularly known today as the traffic signals.
This invention has been significantly a large help to people on the road because this is more convenient and less complicated on the highway than stop signs, especially in this modern era.
This is proof that Black people have not only played major roles for their own community, but for all citizens in general.
Ruby Bridges is an African American woman who has inspired me. She has inspired me by being one of the first Blacks in an all-white school. I hope that I will grow up to be just as strong, steadfast and courageous as Ruby Bridges.
Rosa Parks is an African American woman who inspired me to be great, because she didn't let anyone push her around. You should be like her because you shouldn't let people push you around. She inspired me to be great, follow my dreams, and don't let people push me around or yell at me while I'm playing basketball and when I'm not playing.
An African American who has inspired me to be great is my mother. My mother inspires me to be great because of her work ethic — every day she works hard for me and my family. Whether it's getting up and going to work to provide for us, or the little things like waking me up for school in the mornings.
She didn't give up on me, therefore I won't give up on my dreams.
Finally, she inspires me to be great because of the love she shows me and others. She puts people before herself, which inspires me very much.
Elijah S. Whittaker
My African American role model is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a civil-rights activist who changed the course of history during the 1960s in ways we still see today. He was also a well-known minister from Atlanta, Georgia, where I was born.
Dr. King never gave up. He kept fighting for what he believed in, even when things were tough and there were threats against his life. He taught me to keep moving forward even when things are hard and to stand firm in what I believe in.
As I read his “I Have A Dream” speech, it inspired me to work harder toward my goals and to know that the color of my skin will not determine my ability to succeed in life.
An African American who has inspired me is my sister, Quanteria King. She inspired me to always be kind to others, because you never know what someone’s going through. Also to always help people, because one day you may be in a situation where you hope someone helps you.
James Weldon Johnson was an African American civil-rights activist, NAACP leader, and writer. Johnson wrote poems, and he also wrote the lyrics for the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which we know as a black national anthem.
In 1934, he was the first African American professor to be hired by New York University. Johnson had been appointed to the U.S. council under former President Theodore Roosevelt.
I am inspired by James Weldon Johnson because, if he brought attention to people about lynching, racism and segregation, I can also bring attention to police brutality and racial profiling in the Black community.
My dad: Joey Brown. My father is a huge inspiration to me. He inspires me to be better with each passing day. He pushes me to be the best me that I can.
I love him more with every passing second. Even though he gets mad at me — and vice versa — he’s always in my corner and showing nonstop love in any situation.
I’m glad I was blessed with the wonderful life I’ve been given, such as meeting people like Ms. Primrose and Mr. King. I hope that one day I am a great inspiration to others and that I can be big in life, whether it involves playing the sport that I love or as CEO of my own company.
Nevertheless, my father is why I am who I am today, and I thank God with every passing day that he chose me to have the life that I’ve been blessed with.
My aunt Dr. Tiffannee Grant is one of the smartest people I know. She attended Bethune-Cookman College, where she dropped out and began to work at McDonald’s, but she felt like she could do more. So she re-enrolled back into Bethune, and did not graduate within the four years of normal graduation, but did graduate and became an educator and later an assistant principal.
My favorite African American in history who has inspired me the most is Harriet Tubman. She was enslaved, but she gathered the motivation and strength to escape to freedom in the North.
I love that she wanted to help others escape, as well. Bravely, she aided her family and other slaves to gain their freedom by fearlessly leading them. She was a “conductor” of the Underground Railroad from the South to the North.
Harriet carried a weapon with her during her escapes to protect herself and the runaway slaves. The weapon was also used to prevent the slaves from trying to turn on her and run back to the plantations.
I also was inspired by her roles in the Union Army during the Civil War. Harriet served as a spy, scout and guerrilla soldier. She was a brave and courageous woman during those harsh times.
An African American who has influenced me is Dr. Primrose Cameron.
Dr. Primrose is a renowned motivational speaker and author. She is the founder of “Sisters Build,” a community outreach initiative focusing on enriching the lives of young girls.
Dr. Primrose welcomed me with open arms when I joined the organization in 2019. She immediately became my mentor.
She listens, counsels and encourages me to strive for my dreams. She has been such a positive encouragement in my life. In fact, because of her strong belief in me, I have started my own business, Candle Cove.