My legacy was my job. Everything I did was what I was supposed to do... I was committed to what I defined as "one of the most important tasks of our times," ensuring that generations, especially young African Americans, are made aware of and take pride in the history of their forbears and their remarkable struggle for freedom. An idea came to me that African Americans needed a museum to collect and preserve our history and culture. And, with the help of many minds and hands, that idea came to fruition. – Charles H. Wright, M.D.
As I read these words by our museum’s founder in the exhibition, I, Charles H. Wright: My Story, I was struck by the following thought: we cannot wait for greatness; we must make it so. Dr. Wright, through purpose, education, and service, marshaled the energies of many, and today we have this great museum that bears his name.
When studying history, it is easy to equate greatness with great deeds, of moments etched in the collective memory of humanity. Especially so in the lives of those who made the greatest sacrifice – such as Viola Liuzzo and Malcolm X, two mighty freedom fighters who lost their lives 50 years ago.
Does greatness require great deeds? Certainly not - greatness also lies in little deeds done purposefully, like daily lessons taught by dedicated teachers, or selfless prayers said by the faithful. Great deeds such as these are not tracked by history's lens, yet in aggregate, have changed the world countless times since time began.
When we line up to vote to determine our representation in the halls of government, we stand on the shoulders of those who fought for that right. Those who marched from Selma to Montgomery 50 years ago did so as ordinary folks who put on the mantle of greatness by virtue of their deeds.
While we live in an age of instant celebrity and omnipresent media, most of us will never be famous. Yet we can do great things – for our families, in our communities, and for the future. Through purpose, we can conquer fear; through education, we abolish ignorance; through service, we uplift one another.
We can look to history to inspire us, to fuel the passion behind purpose, but it is up to each of us to understand our purpose, and how we may best put it to work. Dr. Wright’s legacy should encourage us all to pursue our purposeful contribution, and greatness will surely follow.
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