Saturday, the day after Independance Day, I went to the Seattle Care's mentor recruiting event, here in Seattle.
I didn't know what to expect other than Susan Taylor, the long time editor of Essence magazine would be there. For those of you who don't know Essence magazine, think Oprah. What Oprah Winfrey's show has become over the years, Essence magazine has been doing since the '70s.
So, when I get there things were just getting started, really. No big crowd, no celebrities, even my friend Sonya who told me about the event wasn't there yet.
But that didn't last long. As I was talking to a rep from Seattle Public schools about opportunities to volunteer teaching computer classes, the crowd started picking up.
I move on to the 4C's booth. An organization that provides mentors to kids from the juvenile courts. The idea is that they meet with their mentor on a regular basis in leiu of getting locked up. It turns out they're the host of the event, and have pastors, judges, and other influential Seattle folks who volunteer.
Susan Taylor arrives, and the excitement level goes up. I snap a few shots of her milling about, greeting the crowd.
A councilman, a judge, several religeous leaders, and community members speak. A couple of groups sing. A group of kids tap dance, and are suprisingly entertaining. There's a gospel rap group that perform with a singer and are really good. Susan Taylor wants to introduce them to some of her music industry contacts.
At this point Susan Taylor has taken the stage and the push is on. No surprises with the tone of the speech. if you're a black person in America you have easy access to Essence magazine. Every black woman you've known... or will ever meet, has a few issues on the coffee table.
From her editorial pieces I knew I'd hear a melange of new age spirituality, and traditional Southern values. Unbridled capitalism with a strong dose of personal responsibilty.
It's easy to pick up on her world view from her writing, but it was really interesting to see her speak in person. In all of her diva-licious glory. She talked about how she began her career as a fashion editor, and it shows. We're not talking the out of control, phone-throwing, Devil Wears Prada school of Divadom. But if you can save the world and look fabulous at the same time, why not?
There's absolutely no doubt that she's a true believer. Her passion for reaching out and shaping the world into something better is infectious. When someone has a 30 year history of practicing what they preach, you know you can trust their motives.
The thing I liked about this event in general, is there was no talk about what organizations, or government ought to be doing from above, and no condemnation or finger pointing at the parts of our communities that need improvement. The consensus was that if we want our communities to improve let's jut roll up our sleeves, pool our resources and get to work.
The rallying cry, if not the official motto, of the national Cares movement is "I'm In" Before the day was over, there were quite a few of us who are.