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“Not Alone” by Sheba Clarke, GKC - PRSA Member and Scholarship Committee Member

“Not Alone” by Sheba Clarke, GKC - PRSA Member and Scholarship Committee Member

 

Many of us know what it’s like to walk into a room, to sit at a table, to be a student in a classroom or an employee in an office where you are the only one that looks like you.  Every now and then there may be two or three of us, still we were always the minority.  When I was in the first grade, my mother moved our family to the suburbs. In my new school district I was the only black girl in my entire grade all the way up to the seventh grade.   Then all of a sudden, there were three of us.  Even as a young child, I noticed.  Most of the time the isolating feeling of being the only minority was subtle, but there were times when it wasn’t.  That’s when jokes were told, names were called, comments were made and treatment was different.  The incidents were consistent reminders that you were one of the only ones in the room that looked like you. But what I know now is not what I realized then. That is, you are not there alone.  

I can only imagine what Dr. Inez Kaiser went through as she blazed her trail.  Not just to be the only one, but the first.  The first black woman to open a public relations firm in the United States. The first black woman to open an office in downtown Kansas City. The first black woman to become a member of various chambers, attend high-end events, consult with the largest brands in the world and the list goes on.  She was the first during a time when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was barely signed and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was just beginning to bring attention to the continuing challenges  and inequalities black people faced decades after emancipation. By the way- if you ever hear someone say they were the ‘first black’ anything, please know that road came with more than the usual bumps.  I was the first black homecoming queen in high school. The first in a 40 year tradition but I’m sure the bumps were mole hills compared to Inez’s mountains.  

As a public relations practitioner today, stories like Inez’s are empowering. Her story speaks to every little black girl that finds herself at the table or in that boardroom sitting ‘alone.’   Her story is my story.  Her story is OUR story.  When you think about it, we represent each other. Even without knowing it, our stories uplift, encourage and inspire each other to what inclusion is and what it should be.  Because of this, we are never sitting there alone.  

Thank you Inez.

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