Roots are life.
To the untrained eye, roots appear to have no clear purpose. But just as they nourish plants, spurring vibrancy and growth, strong roots anchor humanity.
We invite you to take a moment to read about a group of men and women who have fostered such roots -- stories detailing courage, determination, resolve, consciousness, patience and persistence.
You will find seasoned champions of the underserved, the violated, the marginalized, as well as those who have, throughout the years, executed strategies that have blazed new trails.
The subjects have varied vocations, from attorneys and clergy to educators, entertainers and political servants. They have used their roles to become that initial beacon of light unto the path of equity and inclusion - long before those terms became buzzwords on the present social media landscape.
Those who serve as the focal points are entrenched in a variety of states ranging from Alabama and New York to Indiana and North Carolina. While their goals and missions vary, the commonality lies in the unquenchable thirst to enhance quality of life.
The Old Guard: These 9 activists made history and now inspire future generations
The subjects in these stories are templates. Buoyed by hope, advocacy, strategic implementation and a willingness to provide solutions to all manner of societal ills, these men and women have selflessly, diligently and graciously served as roots, yet stand as tall as Redwoods. Their vast contributions to advancing the cause of righting wrongs while bridging generations have proven peerless and have left indelible marks upon our psyche.
You're encouraged to immerse yourself in a sliver of living history.
For we all know at the foundation of all history lies the root.
Douglas Clark, Staff Writer, Amarillo (TX) Globe-News
THE DIFFERENCE MAKER
After personally experiencing discrimination and segregation, Katie Snuggs spoke out and protested more than 50 years ago. While hoping for today’s protests to be more peaceful, she keeps her focus on what she can affect: her city.
THE PUBLIC SERVANT
Rev. Adrian Brooks has taken action to improve his community, one project at a time. He's worked with his congregation and city leaders to develop a number of initiatives aimed at redevelopment and improving people's lives.
THE BRIDGE BUILDER
For 66 of his 67 years, Wayne Riley has heard about the nearby riot that drove Blacks out and made them feel unwelcome. Now, he hopes to not only change that perspective, but show others in Appalachia the similarities in struggles they face.
THE LIFE SAVER
AJ McCleod is walking to end gun violence. He hopes to promote peace and mentor youth by building relationships to show them opportunities they may not be aware of -- and deter them from an enticing but dangerous path of the streets.
THE COURTROOM WARRIOR
In the legal realm between the mid-1950s and today, if it had to do with segregation or civil rights in Alabama, Fred Gray likely had a hand in it, including such clients as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. -- often while facing threats of his own.
THE GIVING ADVOCATE
Tammy Jackson-Moore gives as much as she can. She makes sure the voices of the impoverished communities are heard on the legislative end, and their needs are met. Recently, that translated to a food distribution / COVID-19 testing site.
THE STRENGTH BUILDER
Evonia Pollard knows the toll gender transition can have on families, communities and individuals. She’s there, to protect and guide on of the most marginalized groups in her community: Black transgender people.
Patrick Johnson has taught hundreds at his racism awareness seminars. He also hopes to open the eyes of those involved in gun violence and serves as a liaison between the community and police, among other community contributions he has made.
THE PEACEFUL STRATEGIST
Lifelong advocate Bertha Todd has met face to face to talk with Ku Klux Klan leaders during their rallies. She has also helped a story, which many people did not want told, become an important part of public discourse: her community's dark past from 100 years ago.