Reflections on Black History Month: Delores Lyons
February is Black History Month. For the month of February, we will be sharing a series of spotlights of some of our staff and volunteers in the Black community. This post features Delores Lyons.
I have two major inspirations in my life and in my advocacy: former New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman.
I was fifteen years old when I first heard and saw Shirley Chisholm. She was all the buzz when she first ran for and won New York’s 12th Congressional District. She served in Congress representing that district for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. She was the first Black woman to hold a seat in Congress. She did not stop there; Shirley Chisholm had the audacity and courage to run for President of the United States in 1972. She was the first Black woman to run for nomination of a major political party.
Harriet Tubman was my first “shero.” I learned about Tubman at the age of six in the first grade. Even at that tender age I was impressed by her shrewdness and savvy. White slave owners and others would say things in her presence believing she lacked the capacity to understand. Tubman would gather information to form her strategies, and she freed some 300 enslaved people. She also helped ensure the end of slavery by aiding the Union during the Civil War.
There are countless reasons to celebrate the contributions of Black people in advocacy and international development. Whether acknowledged or not, given credit or not, Black people have worked and fought to build this country, willingly and unwillingly. These include: Crispus Attucks, an enslaved man who fought in the Revolutionary War and was the very first person to fight and die in that war; the hundreds of enslaved people who were skilled masons, carpenters, and stonecutters and who erected the White House and the U.S. Capitol building; innovators like Morgan Garrett, inventor of the stop light and the gas mask; or Dr. Charles Drew, a surgeon and medical researcher in the field of blood transfusions. These are just examples of Black people who have made not just national but international impact.
In my mind, at the end of the day, this country would not be where it is had it not been for the contributions made by Black Americans.
Delores Lyons has been a RESULTS advocate for fourteen years with the Detroit RESULTS Group. She is a retired social worker for the State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and a TV news reporter working with several network affiliates around the country covering politics and education.