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15 Acknowledgements Gratitude. A wonderful word that captures all that I am feeling at this moment in my God-blessed life. As I acknowledge everyone who helped and supported the writing of this memoir, gratefulness kept coming to my heart and mind. Thank you to one who has become a dear sisterfriend, Patricia Schechter, for the love, inspiration, trust, mentoring, laughter, and patience that led to our writing this book together. As I shared my story through hours of taped interviews at my office in the Black Studies Department at Portland State University, it was always with the knowledge that I was speaking to a joyously, respectfully engaged open heart and mind. I found much healing and release in telling my story. Here I must acknowledge another brilliant sisterfriend and healer, Renee Mitchell (Twysted Healing Systahs), whose invitation to participate in a day-long conference, “Redefining the Blues,” provided an additional catalyst to keep going forward with this memoir and to start planning for a second one that would talk more specifically about Black women and mental health and mental illness. The journey toward healing can be difficult even for accomplished Black women in a society that does not always recognize and appreciate the full lives that we live. Overcoming the silences that doom us to spiritual and physical death is essential for recovery and survival, especially in Oregon, where a liberal and progressive white-majority culture can smother and choke off our voices. I am deeply grateful to my beloved sister Fayetta (Faye) Burch for being an anchor, a truth teller, and the first to read the manuscript that became this book. Thanks to my beloved sisterfriend Bea McMillan, who read the manuscript during our wonderful healing visit in her home in Columbus, Ohio, February 2009. Life-long sisterfriend Charlotte Rutherford provided constructive comments that helped me flesh out the story of my work around education reform in the Portland Public Schools in the 1980s. This work took 16 me to Atlanta, Georgia, where I traveled with a dedicated and innovative educator, Joyce Harris, in order to secure the late Dr. Asa Hilliard as a consultant for the Black United Front as we developed the Portland Baseline Essays. Charlotte also prodded me to not shy away from talking about single motherhood at a time when my employment and leadership responsibilities required extensive travel. She also celebrates with me the recent success in Portland of the African American Mental Health Commission, notably the founding and opening of the Avel Gordly Center for Healing (at Oregon Health and Science University, OHSU), a clinic with a special strength in culturally specific Afrocentric services, as well as other multicultural offerings in an adult outpatient setting. Gloria Gostnell, a dear sister and healing spirit, affirmed and confirmed that my story was worthy of being shared. She was there at the beginning of the legislative years in the early 1990s as I began to listen for my voice and discover it in the company and safety of the Black women’s reading group that we formed together with Emily Bates, Beverly Johnson, Karen Powell, and Rachael Murphey. One of our first reads was bell hooks, who spoke to us about finding our voices and trusting them. Kathleen Saadat, my courageous sisterfriend-mentor-teacher-wisdom keeper, read the manuscript with deep respect and knowledge of the journey. Rupert Kinnard, whose head and heart alignment I have long admired, was a trusted male reader who loves language and music and is dearly loved by people from every walk of life. Adriene Cruz, celebrated artist, provided reminders to exercise and offered me laughter, always at the right time (and often with the right meal!). Tricia Tillman, a brilliant emerging leader, inspired me with her integrity and spirit of Harriet Tubman. My church family and faith warriors at Highland Christian Center kept me in prayer and I love and thank Rev. Dr. W. G. (Kwame) Hardy, Jr., Mother Ivy Miller, sister Gloria Franklin, sister Renee Watson Taylor, and my extended family Louise Wedge, Doris Stevenson, and Sherra Waters for their enduring love and encouragement. I acknowledge with deep gratitude my legislative 17 aides Evelyn Crews, Sandra Herman Moose, Katy King, Sharon Hill, Yugen Rashad, Karen Powell, Denyse Peterson Wickliff, and Sean Cruz, and my dedicated legislative interns Sam Sachs and Chyerel Mayes. I hold up the names of Mrs. Pauline Bradford and Mrs. Willie Mae Hart, revered elders and mentors, and the late Honorable Judge Mercedes Deiz and Gladys...


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