First, to God, I give thanks because without grace and mercy none of what you see would be possible.
Second, thank you to Sydney and Wynter for understanding the reason behind the sacrifice, for being the most loving warriors, for staying true to your convictions, for questioning everything and for over and over again affirming my life purpose.
Third, I thank the leadership team at the Louisville Urban League for making hard work fun, for completely trusting me, and for caring about people who, because life has convinced them they were unlovable, don’t always love themselves enough to love you for your sacrifice.
Next, I thank the entire team at the League for taking seriously the line in the job description reading, “other duties as assigned.” For believing we could change the world and for saying yes to whatever was required. We navigated hundreds of people being COVID-19 tested when we were still afraid ourselves. We got vaccinated publicly to set examples for a community that needed to be reassured.
I am a woman who has become accustomed to threats. There were days when the hate was overwhelming. Times when the critiques were so loud they were all that could be heard. I read every comment and evaluated every recommendation on how the job could be done better, and how there might be a softer way to lead.
All along it was clear to me that the only way to go was the way of the author of my destiny. That meant friendships were not priority and comfort not guaranteed. My tears spilled at awkward moments and my heart was broken again and again, and also, somehow simultaneously, there was healing. There was empowerment, and of course, there was always you.
You who always believed, or maybe began to believe. Your faith, your prayers, and your love lifted me. We weathered storms. And on September 24, the wonderful Board of Directors of the Louisville Urban League hosted a party fit for a community that had survived it all. We are not perfect but we are doing the work. We are not fixed but we are not irreparably damaged. From the stage, looking out at the crowd, your faces glowed. Some skin was young and smooth and some clearly weathered by life storms. You were Black, White, Hispanic and Asian and you felt the same love I felt.
Thank you for showing up, for planning, for donating and for speaking. Thank you for your vulnerability and your trust. From police to protestor, CEO to janitor, for one night we all agreed that what we had in common was more important than anything that ever divided us. That is what I wanted for my adopted hometown. All I ever wanted was for us to be free.
Finally, if you follow me on social media, you know there is a song by Major that I have dedicated to Louisville for years, the words are:
I found love in you/ And I learned to love me too/ Never have I felt that I could be all that you see/ It’s like our hearts have intertwined into the perfect harmony./ This is why I love you/ Because you love me./ Every moment that you smile chases all of the pain away/ Forever and a while in my heart is where you'll stay/
Thank you, Louisville. Let’s keep going. I will be right here.
Sadiqa Reynolds is Outgoing President and CEO Louisville Urban League as well as Founder and President Louisville Urban League Sports & Learning.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Thank you, Louisville. We are not perfect but we are doing the work