Voice.

I used to lipsynch during my choir concerts. True story.

I was in Junior High, and I was terrified to make a sound in public. As the rest of my peers serenaded what felt like an unending sea of parents, grandparents and – worst  of all – those judgmental little siblings, I suffered cold sweats, dizziness and nausea, and just tried to make it to the refreshments with a shred of dignity still in tact.

Fast forward (more years than I care to admit), and I have a full slate of public speaking on my docket. On April 19, I’ll take part in our city’s Yom Hashoah commemoration. On April 26, I’ll speak on social justice at the community’s “Requium on Racism,” a part of the national YWCA “Stand Against Racism” slate of programs. On April 27, I’ll stand and speak with my community colleagues before an assembly of 2,000 people at the Charleston Area Justice Ministry’s Action for economic justice.

Don’t get me wrong – I won’t be any less nervous on these occasions than I was in seventh grade. But I’ll get past my fear, because what truly terrifies me now is what will happen if we don’t speak up – if we don’t remember the past, if we don’t stand with those in need, if we don’t work (and sometimes fight) for a better future. After all, isn’t that what our voices were given to us for?

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