On January 15, 2017, I delivered my own “I Have a Dream” speech in honor of a very special occasion that just so happened to have also been the weekend honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The speech as so emotional for me because I was launching a very personal project that involved my family. It was our very first (and only) family anthology that shared our most intimate stories with the world. Stories never shared before, stories that rocked our souls and pushed us on this emotional healing journey. This speech inspired even me (and I wrote it!), so I wanted to share it with you. I hope it inspires you to keep dreaming and keep walking in your God-given purpose. The video, in case you don’t feel like reading, is posted below!
**RESHARE ALERT** Speech delivered on January 15, 2017
Today on January 15, 2017, I have the honor of releasing for the first time in our family history (a history that spans almost 100 years), a compilation of life stories never told before. Each story is filled with emotion, strength, endurance and, most of all, faith in God and hope for our future. I can say that telling our story was easy, but that would be a lie. It hasn’t been easy writing it, and it certainly has not been easy publishing it. I think I can say for all ten women that this exact moment makes us nervous as hell!!!
But I am also aware of this appointed time. How appropriate that we release such powerful testimonies during Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend. Yesterday morning, I felt compelled to listen to his famous speech, I Have a Dream, and there were specific phrases he said over 50 years ago that rings loudly in my spirit today as I release our family anthology. You see, the power of words carry on forever, even after we have long left this earthly realm. Dr. King kept saying in his speech, 100 years.
Dr. King, in his speech, said these words, “100 years later, the Negro is still not free”… he said, “the Negro is still exiled in his own land”… he said, “we shall always march ahead”… he said, “I have a dream that one day my children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” (that one was my favorite), then finally he said, “free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty we are free at last”.
Now, I am not going into politics right now concerning his speech. I am not going into any controversial conversation. Instead, I am keeping this speech focused on my family: the Fraziers. Because I, too, have a dream.
The oldest member in our family, to my knowledge, is almost 100 years old. I am 40 years old. So some of the things I say to you now will be from my own memory bank and the stories told to me by my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother. You see, I was geniunely raised by the women in my family. And I learned a thing or two from the men just by their actions. We will get to that later.
100 years. The women in my family have been physically, verbally, emotionally and financially abused. The wives were beaten and the children were raped. Not all, but damn near most. It was a generational curse passed down from generation to generation. So embedded in my family that it was a “normal” way of life to us. So we, the women, adapted to that way of living. Can you imagine? Yet, every Friday night, I remember going to my grandmother’s house for fish fry. The adults would be in the dining room listening to blues, dancing and drinking. The kids would be in the living room laughing and playing and sneaking in the dining room to spy on the adults.
100 years. Alcoholism, drugs, poverty wreaked havoc in my family. It was a cycle. Drink until you can’t feel anymore. But the alcohol produced anger, and the anger produced violence. Some say there’s nothing worse than a physical punch or kick, but I say there’s nothing worse than a sharp tongue. That emotional scar takes a little longer to heal than the physical one (if you don’t end up dead).
100 years. I remember as a kid that my biggest dream was to grow up and marry someone with the last name beginning in “A” so that I would be the first in line for food stamps. Now, I sit before you with two Masters degrees, own my own business, written five books, and a co-host of a radio show. How did I get here? Two words: faith and forgiveness.
100 years. Of pain and agony. Of darkness and brokenness. Of poverty and addiction. But the women in my family kept pressing forward. Let’s talk about the women in the Frazier Chronicles for a minute.
Starting with the oldest, Martha Harris, who just happens to be my mother. I wrote a story about my mom in one of my works last year. My mother is a praying woman. She endured two extremely abusive marriages that span over 30 years. Constantly being put down, beaten, disregarded, disrespected, and demeaned. Being told she wasn’t *ish and would never be *ish. Watching her kids grow up with hatred in their hearts, yet following her same footsteps. Unlike countless others, God spared her life to live another day and tell her story. Her message is tell somebody and get help. Mom, you are my hero. You saved my life when you signed me up to join the Navy. How did I get here? You. Your unconditional love for me. You saw something in me that I was too young to see in myself. Thank you.
Next up, Sharalene, my cousin. Uncle Pete’s daughter. Uncle Pete was my favorite uncle of all time! He was so sweet, kind and gentle. And he was funny! He made all the kids laugh. When he passed, it hurt me so bad, and I was so young but I remember that. You, Sharalene, are your father’s daughter. You are just as sweet, kind and gentle. You doubt yourself. You doubt your ability. And you doubt your worth. But I am here to tell you, STOP IT!! You matter. You are powerful beyond measure. You are worthy to have peace and joy. You are worthy of God’s blessings. Stop letting people and society convince you otherwise. And if they have a problem with you, tell them to come see me. I love you to life.
TeResa, my oldest sister. If only I can get you to see yourself through my lens. If only I can get you to see yourself through the lens of God. How precious you are. How beautiful you are. How special you are. How necessary it is to have you here on this earth. You allow people to abuse you, to take advantage of you, to run all over you, to disrespect you, to discount you, to disregard you. Once you see your value and your self-worth, all of that will stop. You will remove those negative assholes from your life. And you will be the powerhouse God intended for you to be. Once you use your voice! I love you sis… always have, and always will.
Katrina, my next to the oldest sister. People never really understood why we were so close. Yeah, we were close in age, but mostly, we were close in connection to the sexual abuse. We shared in those experiences and we learned to lean on one another. Then I left home and left you behind. I blamed myself for all the trouble that came to you when I left. I should’ve protected you. In many ways, I failed you. I had to live with that guilt for years. Until you came to visit me in Maryland. Our relationship was healed. We both needed that. And we both began to blossom ever since. I call you my prophet because God always give you a special word to break spiritual chains in my life and in the lives of those around you. You endured so much abuse over the years, yet you shine brighter than anyone I’ve ever seen in my life. I am honored to be your appointed sister. Love you girl!!!
Josie, my baby sister. Most people think you’re older than me! I had left home when you were young, so we didn’t really grow up together. I had to get to know you when you came to stay with me in Maryland with your two boys. We had some rough edges but I think we learned how to co-exist. We are both stubborn. We are both strongly opinionated. We are alike in some ways. But I see the pain inside of you that you are working on. The pain that I had inside of me years ago. I am proud to be the one to guide you on this emotional healing journey. You are not alone. And we will get to the other side TOGETHER!!! Love you.
Sherika, my babiest of baby sister. Girl you had it rough!!! Being the youngest of all of us. But also being despised on some level by all of us. Your father had a huge role in that. He was an asshole to us and we became an asshole to you. That wasn’t fair and I’m sorry. I had to learn over the years to separate the good from the bad. You are your father’s child, but you are nothing like him. I had to see that after God healed my own heart so I was able to see it. For all the years I closed you out, I am sorry. I pray that God will heal our relationship through this journey we are currently on. From the bottom of my heart, I love you.
Vanessa and Shanelle, two sisters and my cousins! We grew up thick as thieves. Trina and I stayed at your house, mostly because your granny made the bomb friend bologna sandwiches!! But I look at the women you are now and I smile. You are both strong, beautiful, faith-filled women. You value family but I want you to value yourself. You put everyone else’s needs before your own. And that is commendable, but sometimes, you have to take care of yourself first. Your energy and spirit is well equipped to love yourself and love others too at the same time. Keep being genuine and loving and kind… and always keep smiling. Your smiles are what heal people around you. That’s the magic of your smile. Love you like sisters!
And finally, last but certainly not least, Angela, my cousin. When you married my cousin Terrence, none of us really knew you. We got the scoop from my grandmother (God rest her soul) — you know my grandmother tells everything!!! But it wasn’t until I came to visit you and spent one on one time with you that I got to know your soul. I could hear the pain in your voice and I could see the pain in your eyes from your past. And I could see you fighting to not allow it to spill over into your marriage. For years, you felt like something was wrong with you. That you couldn’t do anything right and that nothing good was going to happen to you. Then my cousin found you. Yes, that man was raised with high standards by my grandmother. He was protected from the abuse, and now you see just how gentle and loving and kind his heart really is. The two of you together is like some magical love story that should be on a Disney Channel! I love seeing you two together. I am glad to have spent time with you. Thank you for trusting me enough to show me the real you. I can truly say, that I love you.
Whew that was one long ass speech!!! This journey of publishing this book has been an emotional one. I cried more times I’d care to admit. I’m nervous. I’m scared shitless. I’m wondering what will be the outcome. But I am glad to be on this journey with my family. I know this for sure, that my dream of my family being free from the pain of our past is right now in this very moment. WE ARE FREE AT LAST!!! After 100 years of suffering, wondering if it will ever end, wondering if we will ever smile again, wondering if the pain will ever subside… wondering if God hear our prayers… wondering if God truly loves us… we can finally accept our new normal and say that we are free at last. I, too, had a dream. But now, I am living it. Click To Tweet
Thank you all for supporting me and my family!
Love you to life,
Founder, Matters of My Heart, LLC
To purchase your copy of my family’s anthology, click the image below!
To watch (or share) the video of I, Too, Have a Dream: