Co-authored by Dee Conway and Alycia Diggs-Chavis
Welcome back to our series, begun here, on what today’s leaders can learn from successful African Americans who accomplished great things. This post is dedicated to...
It’s critical for leaders to have and work toward a consistent vision. Communicating and living a compelling vision for individuals, teams, and organizations inspires people to reach further to meet their own dreams. Here are two African Americans whose visions led to tangible outcomes and inspirational legacies.
Benjamin Banneker, a free Black man, was largely self-educated in astronomy and mathematics. At a time when many white Americans denigrated Black intelligence and ingenuity, Banneker proved them wrong and used his fame to promote his vision of opportunities for other African Americans. At 22, he demonstrated his intellect by carving a functioning wooden clock. He recorded the movements of stars and planets, thereby predicting a 1789 eclipse. He also helped complete the survey for Washington, DC in 1791.
He wrote and published the first scientific book and almanac by an African American—Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia Almanack and Ephemeris—which sold throughout the US and Europe, earning Banneker international acclaim.
Early in the racial equality struggle, he reprinted anti-slavery material, and corresponded with Thomas Jefferson for his influence in uplifting African Americans. Upon his death at 75, his 53-year-old handmade wooden clock still kept accurate time.
QUOTE: “Never abandon your vision. Keep reaching to further your dreams.”
Madam C. J. Walker, an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and political and social activist, was born Sarah Breedlove. She became America’s first female self-made millionaire after turning her African American hair care company into an empire. During the Jim Crow era, she envisioned financial independence for African American businesswomen, so she opened her own manufacturing facility and created a large network of licensed sales agents, employing over 40,000 men and women across the US, Caribbean, and Central America.
QUOTE: “Perseverance is my motto.”
In both Benjamin Banneker and Madam C. J. Walker, we see leaders committed to maintaining and pursuing a clear vision of success that has collective impact. Through their example, leaders can see how powerful it is to act on such a clear vision.
Ready to continue the journey through our series? Next up, we’ll learn about two leaders with a passion for coaching others. Read on here.