Black in America


Taqwaa Falaq Saleem
Taqwaa Falaq Saleem

Taqwaa Falaq Saleem is a 2008 honor graduate with the B.A. in English Language and Literature from Savannah State University where she was also awarded the coveted President’s Second Mile Award at the commencement ceremonies. She is currently a graduate student and teaching assistant at Georgia Southern University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

I spent the morning of New Year’s Eve in Savannah with my parents and family and the latter part of the day in Atlanta with my sorority sister and her family. Of course, the city was all abuzz with celebration of a new opportunities, new promises, and new experiences. My spirit beamed with the grateful reality that I had been blessed to enjoy another year and that I was on the pulse of the first morning of 2009.

Being Black in America at the dawn of a new year means recognizing that with newness comes increased preparation for opportunities to be successful. This advice from my mentor, Savannah Alderman Van R. Johnson, II, has lingered in my mind since first hearing the words some eight years ago. We never know when we might receive the telephone call or have the meeting or experience the thought that changes the trajectory of our life. We must be prepared to take advantage of the possibilities within our grasp and even those we have to stretch further in order to touch. Being Black in America is about the insa- tiable stirring to do better and be better as individuals, thus improving our communities.

Being Black in America means making the decision to start living the life you want to live today. There is no need to wait on someone or something to help you make success a reality. Prepare yourself for opportunities to be successful. Prepare yourself to live a life that leaves a legacy. Savannah State University’s Retired Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Randy Gunter, recently used words from one of my personal heroines in his farewell letter to the University family. Reading her words again invigorated me to make every second of 2009 full of the best energy I can muster. Mary McLeod Bethune’s Last Will and Testament represents timeless documentation of one of our responsibilities as a people, especially in this new year. She said, I leave you finally a responsibility to our young people.

Our children must never lose their zeal for building a better world. They must not be discouraged from aspiring to greatness.

Nor must they forget that the masses of our people are still underprivileged, illhoused, impoverished, and victimized by discrimination.

The Freedom Gates are half ajar. We must pry them fully open.

Let us charge ahead in 2009.

Taqwaa Falaq Saleem

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