(TriceEdneyWire.com)—“You are where you are today because you stand on somebody’s shoulders. And wherever you are heading, you cannot get there by yourself. If you stand on the shoulders of others, you have a reciprocal responsibility to live your life so that others may stand on your shoulders. It’s the quid pro quo of life. We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.”—Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.
When I began my career in public service 25 years ago, I was fortunate to have outstanding mentors and role models, most notably my own parents. Ernest “Dutch” Morial and Sybil Morial were—and my mother continues to be—tireless activists and advocates for civil rights and social justice. I grew up in the movement, and was inspired by heroes such as Whitney M. Young, Roy Wilkins, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dorothy Height. I first sought elected office in the era of Douglas Wilder, the first Black governor of Virginia, and Carol Mosely Braun, the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate. The management guru Peter Drucker said “there is no success without a successor,” and while I humbly pray that I may represent the success of my mentors and role models, I recognize that all of us are part of a continuum.
We launched Urban League 25 to recognize and encourage the best and brightest leaders under 40—the next generation of Dr. Mae Jemisons and Colin Powells and Barack Obamas.