Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Mayor Brenda Lawrence

Mayor Lawrence Bringing Women & Minorities to the Table

Mayor of Southfield (2)

A few days ago, a Chaldean colleague invited me to join him to the Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. The meeting was held at Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the guest speaker was Mayor Brenda Lawrence of Southfield.

I had previously met Mayor Lawrence, when earlier in the year she spoke at an International Woman’s Day event. Given her motivational stories, her pride in her work as “a public servant”, and her down-to-earth personality, I was glad to have this opportunity once again.

“The voice of women and the voice of minority are very important,” said the Mayor. “There is a window to see things from them that people without diverse background have not seen.”

A real go-getter, Mayor Lawrence refused to sit down when in the past she lost a political race.

“We as women allow ourselves to be a ‘loser’ when we lose,” she said. “We often allow others to define us. But my grandmother always told me, ‘Don’t ever let someone tell you to sit when you have the right to walk through the door and stand in the room.’”

She stresses the importance of having more women and more minorities at the congressional table, because, she said, “As they say, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

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Mayor Brenda Lawrence

 Mayor Lawrence

Today the Niagara Foundation, Michigan held a panel discussion “Celebrating Women as Community Builders” in commemoration of Women’s History Month. The three women speakers were Diane Slavens, Michigan representative; Carol Cain, journalist and columnist, and senior producer and host of “Michigan Matters” on CBS 62; and Brenda Lawrence, Mayor of City of Southfield.

The three women shared their stories, of how they started their careers, the struggles and challenges they faced (and still do), how they have balanced work and career, and what advice they would give other women. I was touched and inspired by their wisdom and accomplishments, but I was particularly in awe of Mayor Brenda Lawrence – mostly because of the possibility that she would be one of our congresswomen.

As Mayor Lawrence pointed out, over 50 percent of the US population is women, yet less than 20 percent of congress is represented by women. We complain about how the country is run, and part of the problem is that this country is being run by men.

“Everyone is a unique individual and there’s no one that’s created like you,” she said. “You were created to use your special talents, whatever they may be, not to just suck air out of the room.”

Mayor Lawrence encourages women to push themselves out of their comfort zone in order to achieve their dreams, whether it is to become an artist or a stay-at-home mom. She has been married to her high school sweetheart for 42 years. She brought her teenage granddaughter to today’s event. She does so much without keeping her hands completely out of the kitchen. To me, Mayor Lawrence is the essence of true success. How does she do it?

“It’s hard,” she said. “But anything worth doing is not easy, including giving birth to a child.”

She said for a while it has been said that Detroit needs a woman mayor because the city needs a mother who would not abuse or steal from her.

I say Detroit needs a mother and America needs dozens of mothers.