Building upon Momma’s legacy…


At 42 years old, I have lived (almost) exactly half of my life on the earth without my Momma Johnnie Mae Gray Little… I think I am finally starting to feel like an adult!JohnnieMaeGrayLittle

I wish she had been here to help me figure some stuff out… All I can guess is that if it was meant to be that way it would have been that way. I have not always acknowledged her continued presence in my life, but as I am working on building my own legacy, I find it is not so hard if I stand SOLIDLY on her shoulders.

She was the FIRST EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, and ADVOCATE in my life, and she left such an AMAZING LEGACY… She was the first full-time African American teacher in York County Schools in Virginia when they were integrating school systems. I had her as a teacher TWICE in high school, both in Geometry and Computer Science. She fun and tough at the same time and I developed my love for education from her.

She would have me tutor other students and always told me, “You will become better at doing math when you help others understand it… Explain it to them however they can understand it.” I continued that practice with my sons while I homeschooled them and carry it as a foundational principle I live by as an educator in any field.

My sister and I were with her when she traveled to Hampton University after full school days to attend classes and earn her Masters in Computer Science. I watched her commitment to continue to grow herself as she encouraged us to reach our greatest potentials.

It’s actually intimidating sometimes… BUT when I remember that I am not competing with her legacy, but BUILDING UPON IT… I can relax a little (woo saaaaa…) and smile because my load seems a lot lighter and my path becomes much clearer.

Gene knew my Mom and has always said that once she left he believed that her “mantle” fell on me (I know that’s a churchy term), and that he began to see *her* in *me* more and more. He says he believes that I got a “double portion” of who she was and always encourages me to acknowledge my rich heritage. He provokes me to walk in that *space* and confidently believe and know that her wisdom about so many things that I have questioned over my life has helped me arrive at my current place.

In recent years, I have more consciously recognized her as one “in the great cloud of witnesses” and as an honored ancestor who is cheering me on. That makes me HAPPY! YAY!!!!

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