Do you know the story of the stone that the builder rejected becoming the cornerstone?
This is about a stone rejected by the builder (American society) and the amazing feats that this one particular rejected stone has accomplished in a short time. This unstoppable woman refused to be chipped away or broken into pieces but instead found her purpose in trying to lift her people and also lift other races if they choose to be lifted. Though she could have settled on other noteworthy accomplishments and used the injustices of 400-plus years against her people as an excuse to just settle, she used the pain to catapult herself and her adopted hometown to a higher plane and added to the racial awakening that our city so desperately needs.
Let’s be clear for the record, Sadiqa Reynolds was already hard at work making a difference in Louisville and shaking the conscience of the city long before the senseless and cruel murder of Breonna Taylor put the spotlight of Louisville’s racial injustice.
The American story is rife with broken promises and murderous assaults on indigenous people, along with unspeakable atrocities against African Americans—enslavement with still no reparations, rapes to the point the entire race is bleached beyond their original Black skin, broken families, educational deprivation, false accusations that split-tongues so easily speak.
Not one of us can walk on water, but Sadiqa has an amazing ability to tread water. The average person would have given up, thrown in the towel, but not Sadiqa. She brings a long list of virtues: forgiveness when others would refuse to forgive, kindness yet firmness when required, and a supernatural strength to push forward when individuals and systems defiantly pushed against her dream and community progress. She brings determination that focuses on a future that many have been successfully programed not to believe in.
Had she believed for a second the stereotypes pushed on many African American children, we would still have a blighted field in the West End where the beautiful Norton Healthcare Sports and Learning Center now stands. It will prove to be an oasis long after the naysayers have chosen to forget their opposition to such a wonderful place. It will stand for the hundreds and thousands of young people who will grace its threshold with their athletic and academic skills. And it will stand after we are all distant memories in the annals of history.
And so the Louisville community came together last weekend to celebrate Sadiqa’s vision, dogged determination, bravery, resilience, pizzazz and more. The Louisville community paused to honor the visionary work of a leader and show what a rejected stone is able to do by refusing to allow others to define her mission. I shudder to think of where African Americans would be had it not been for the bravery of such women and men. The Urban League, NAACP and many other organizations borne out of our shared suffering and the need for racial uplift and fair treatment have made unbelievable progress.
Sadiqa Reynolds: Thank you, Louisville. We are not perfect but we are doing the work
Many thanks for Sadiqa Reynolds’ untiring brave voice and her relentless spirit to make Louisville a better place. A city not known for its forward thinking, racial equity and inclusion but rather for being a city that is very comfortable with inequality, police brutality and corruption, redlining to maintain segregation in neighborhoods and schools, and an unwillingness to share power with its African American citizens. Many cities of similar size have had a Black mayor. Even Old Dominion had a Black governor. Our old Kentucky home tends to sip its bourbon and throw a bone to accommodate a few “Negroes” who are comfortable with self-promotion while turning a blind eye to the inequalities in our society—including the murder of Breonna Taylor.
No doubt the rejected stones will continue to be cornerstones for Louisville and the nation. They will continue coming in the form of the Sadiqas and the Ketanji Brown Jacksons. Can you even fathom what a nation we could become if we embraced the talents of everyone?
Sadiqa obviously received guidance at an early age from people who encouraged her to believe in herself. Parents who loved her, relatives who added to the nurture and professionals who recognized her innate abilities. She obviously internalized strength from Dr. Maya Angelo who inspired her, along with other historical figures she met or read about. No doubt she is thankful to those teachers and professors who whispered in her ear that she was destined to make her mark in history. I’m thankful she listened and know there is more to come.
Emma McElvaney Talbott is a Louisville freelance writer, educator and human rights advocate.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Sadiqa Reynolds – rejected stone now cornerstone: Opinion