My Truth: Celebrating Women


By Cheryl Smith, Publisher

Sometimes folks get caught up in the wrong thing. Misplaced aggression is a terrible thing. Recently, as I scanned my social media timeline, I viewed numerous pictures of new initiates into sororities and fraternities. I’m speaking specifically of the members of Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs). It was especially nice to see generational participation because what that also showed was generational education as the organizations are for the college educated. So I salute us being educated and engaged because there are some very positive discussions I could have about the value of each organization and their members, as well as the impact these organization’s members have had on society. As a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., I have always respected the other organizations.

First of all, they were for blacks and then their foundations are so similar, even with their differences. While I’ve always enjoyed the spirited back and forth that I’ve shared with my sisters of the other sororities: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta and Sigma Gamma Rho; going in with a strong love for my people, I viewed the women as my sisters because we were, after all, Black Queens. When all was said and done, we are more collectively than separate and espousing a slave mentality.

If you choose your friends, loved ones, employees, pastor, doctor and family members based on the organization they belong to; well you’re definitely devaluing the life of others and yourself. You’re missing out on so much. You’re limiting the opportunities you have to expand your horizons and enjoy life to its fullest.

Which brings me to my truth. When I was at Florida A&M University, I met a wonderful young lady, Martha “Marty” Graden (later Muhammad). She was talented, loving, beautiful and smart; pretty much like another woman I met when I moved to Dallas, Lesia Swain. Lesia was a newspaper publisher and outstanding sister living in Oklahoma City, who I got to know through my involvement with the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Unfortunately the former Miss Langston University died at a young age, in her 30s, devastating many.

Then there’s Dr. Keisha Lankford. I met young Keisha when she was a college student participating in the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Internship Program under the leadership of founder, State Sen. Royce West. These three women were all initiated into Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., and they each have a special place in my heart. Early on I knew that Keisha was special.

Over the years she hasn’t proven me wrong. She is a born leader, a committed and focused team player with an impeccable work ethic. Did I also say she has a beautiful heart and spirit? Well, it was a proud moment as I stood watching her take the oath of office, becoming a member of the Cedar Hill (Texas) School Board on Monday, May 20, 2019. Garnering 69% of the vote Trustee Lankford, stood tall and proud, looking gorgeous and focused. Then she talked about her commitment to the “babies.”

That commitment she referred to didn’t come overnight. Her desire and commitment is well-known. Just look at her work in the classrooms, boardrooms, community centers and in the streets. And yes, she’ll even come into your home because she goes where she needs to go to “save the babies.” The name Keisha is becoming popular among elected officials.

Atlanta, GA has a mayor (who is also my sorority sister) named Keisha, and now Cedar Hill, TX has a School Board Trustee named Keisha. Many of the accolades that I could espouse fit both women and I am so proud of them both. When I think about the revolutionary and uplifting work that Trustee Lankford and her husband, Oliver, are doing, I can’t help but smile.

The nonprofit, Lankford Avenue, has year round programming that strengthens the family and our communities. They are committed to ending domestic violence. Yes, that’s a challenging and noble undertaking but the Lankford’s, and their team members, are not fainthearted. They are making a difference. I’m looking forward to watching Dr. Lankford go to work on the School Board. In fact, the work began that day. It was the swearing in ceremony, then executive session, followed by the public meeting.

Great things are happening in Cedar Hill. Among victories to celebrate and watch, Cedar Hill elected the first African American Mayor, in Stephen Mason; and long-time city manager Alan Sims and Shirley Daniels joined the city council. If you don’t know Keisha, get to know her. Her star continues to rise and she lifts as she climbs.