I asked Alicia what her best advice was for Black professionals whose work is unseen, their heart is not heard, or intellect recognized.
Alicia shares the story of her grandmother and mother, who both loved music. Her grandmother was a music teacher and pianist, and Alicia’s mom loved to sing. In Alicia’s hometown, the best artists and musicians would perform at the Majestic Theatre. It was that very theatre that her grandmother was never allowed in as a child, yet years later, her mom would eventually be allowed in as a child for specific occasions. Although Alicia’s mother was allowed to enter the theatre as a child for special events, she was required to enter through the back door and sit in the “colored” balcony.
Alicia shares her grandmother and mother’s stories of the way things were before the Civil Rights Movement. Fast forward to when Alicia was a child. Both grandmother and mother were allowed to sing with a local ensemble invited to perform at the Majestic Theatre. What a proud moment and great joy for Alicia’s grandmother and mother. In that very theatre, once unwelcomed, sat young Alicia. Just a child, watching their beautiful performance from the best seats in the house. This is how strength and perseverance were passed from one generation to the next.
This experience has remained with Alicia as she grew older and resonated, even more, beginning her professional career. The deep understanding that nobody should be denied the opportunity to enjoy and pursue their passions because of race, gender, or other will continue to guide her interactions with others. Her memory of her grandmother and mother finally taking their place on that stage continues to fuel her fight for inclusion.
Alicia went on to encourage others to reflect on the journey for equality in our nation. She knows it hasn’t been perfect yet acknowledges the enormous strides made from one generation to the next. Still, there is much work to do. Alicia believes, “Black professionals MUST have a seat at the table to do the work that is before us, so we all have to find our inner strength and persevere through challenges; this preserves our seat at the table. Quitting is not an option.”