Women’s History Month usually doesn’t come with the annual fanfare of Black History Month.
Yet and still, America has more than its fair share of trailblazing African-American women who paved inroads across the nation when no one else could or would.
Columbus (GA) native Tonza Sheree Thomas, a former President of the local chapter of the NAACP, past State Secretary for the Georgia State Conference, and current Chapter Lead of Spread The Vote, knows about blazing trails. She’s made a career out of it.
Past, present, and future, Black women across the nation are always on point and Harriet-on-the-spot when it comes to change, freedom and laying the groundwork for the future. Thomas, a graduate of Troy University, is and was involved in many public and civic duties throughout the course of her career. Her spirit, energy and drive tells everyone around her how much she cares about what goes on in the world around her and the world at-large.
Many strive to make a difference, but not enough stick around for the long-term through all of its twists, turns, ups, and downs–and especially through its many ego-bumps.
Feeling the Burn
UI asked Thomas what is her ‘burning question’ in life and which ancestor or elder would she ask to address it?
“If I could ask a burning question to an elder or ancestor, living or deceased, who would it be, what would I ask and what would they say? My spirit led me to Harriett Tubman for her heroism along the Underground Railroad.”
“I’d ask her how she stayed focused on guiding people to freedom while executing those who questioned her direction. I’m sure that she’d correct me by saying, ‘See you got a flipped mouth! Ask me how I carried some and picked some off. Folks would think that we were talking about peas!” … “Everyone knew the cost of freedom and a heap of colored folks didn’t take to me. White folks hid us while we were escaping slavery and the wrong move would have gotten us all killed. When someone troubled me, I would pick them off and then I’d ask the good Lord for forgiveness. It’s called moving by conviction while controlling your emotions. I looked towards the hills from whence cometh my help. All of my help came from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”
Indeed, our help always came from the unexpected in so many unexpected ways.
Freedom has a cost, a price attached to it that few are willing to pay. We would all do so well to keep the ‘Harriet Spirit’ of freedom, innovation and long-term thinking alive during this dark hour in America history. Our elders paid a price that is rarely exacted from us, and they did so much more with so very few resources.
In this hour, when it feels like the world has regressed rather than advanced, we would also do well to remember that all societal and economic changes entered a period of spiritual ‘mourning’ just before everything transitioned for the greater good of all.
Our hearts burn in our chests daily, but we know all will be well in the long run.
Black Women and Their Families
Being the mother of the entire Earth is a wearying job.
As we like to say “God will not put more on us than we are able to bear.” Maybe it’s not a scriptural mandate that we are always striving with our internal and extended families to find peace and balance, but bear it all, we do; often to our own detriment.
When we asked Thomas, a daughter, mother, sis-Star, and friend to many, what family means to her, she said “Being a part of a family is a tremendous blessing and it may be hard to describe.”
“My family is made up of blood relatives, lifelong friendships, and civil rights colleagues. I am from a proud ancestry that is fueled by faith, spirituality, and redemption. My blood relatives are support systems. We are lead by the golden rule and to love family members no matter what. For those long distance relatives, social media makes it easy for us to stay connected. I love them all though many are not blood relatives. Like most, I grew up in close-knit neighborhoods with classmates, and college friends, but as an adult, I gained comrades of the movement. These folks are dear to me and will always be family. They are from all races, backgrounds, genders, and ages. Most of my family members are outstanding, but some of them suffer with mental illness and substance abuse. It is important to give love like Christ. It is important for me to love like Christ, which is to love everyone where they are at in life, assist if needed, and encourage a positive change. Although we may come from both sides of the tracks, love is the common denominator that keeps us together.”
The fight to “keep us together” continues, but Black women in American history are rarely known as quitters. Too often, we quit on ourselves before we quit on our mission, and we rarely quit on ourselves.
Women’s History Month has its own specialized branch called “Black Women’s History Month.”
This Women’s History month, Urban Intellectuals celebrates Tonza Sheree Thomas, an extraordinary American Black woman who earned her place in the category of youth advocate and social justice activist, running an often hard-hitting race to protect not only her own children, but all of the children and youth who are uplifted within her domain and on her watch.
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.