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Excellence is a Black Woman, Part Two

Davia Rose Lassiter featured with Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Rebecca Walker

Excellence is a Black Woman, Part Two

THIS A REMINDER (#IYKYK): I’ve danced with Alice Walker, laughed with Nikole Hannah-Brown, and thanked Charlayne Hunter-Gault for existing. If you missed Part 1, read it here

For more about how my selected word for 2023 – power – manifested in ways that astounded me … keep reading. 


August, Part 2: Rena rena rena rena rena rena rena rena renaissance! Beyoncé. Full stop. 

Photo of Beyonce, the best performer alive and a Black woman Three Black women smiling at a Beyonce concert


September: Was blessed to attend the 40th anniversary of the Black Women’s Health Imperative at Spelman College. This event was free to the public and I met Byllye Avery, the mastermind behind an epic gathering of Black women to discuss health outcomes that directly affect us. I witnessed brilliance in real time from notable women such as Eva Marcille, Dr. Camara Jones, … and Nikole Hannah-Jones! 

Byllye Avery and Davia Rose Lassiter at the 40th anniversary of the Black Woman's Health Imperative Black woman smiling and holding a TED sign Group of multiracial women smiling on stage at TEDWomen Conference


October: Years ago, I manifested doing one of many TED Talks. Welp, I not only attended TEDWomen this year but also started training to organize TEDx talks and received insight on what they look for in speakers. This was a major step toward something I will accomplish sooner than later. I often use TED Talks in my WomenLead class, so this was an extra special experience because four amazing young leaders also got to experience TED! 


Davia Rose Lassiter and Charlayne Hunter-Gault, a Black women who helped integrate the University of Georgia Davia Rose Lassiter and Nikole Hannah-Jones meet again

Dr. Ebony Lumumba and Alice Walker, icon and author, talk on stage about Black women Jesmyn Ward and guest host on stage reading books about Black women and Black people.

November: WHERE TO BEGIN. Thanks to my rockstar auntie, I was in the building for the Phyllis Wheatley Poetry Festival in my hometown of Jackson, Miss. This event marked 50 years since the first convening with the late Margaret Walker Alexander, Alice Walker, the late Toni Morrison … NEED I SAY MORE?!?! I immediately shared this with my amazing boss who booked a flight within 24 hours to Jackson! I had her at Toni Morrison, someone for whom she has a deep love and respect. Let me tell you … mind. blown.

I talked with … you guessed it … Nikole Hannah-Jones AGAIN and got my copies of The 1619 Project (book and NYT edition) signed. I also got to thank the #GOAT — Charlayne Hunter-Gault — and tell her how she’s the reason I have a master’s degree from the Grady College at UGA. Fun fact: I also take the Hamilton Holmes MARTA to work everyday so this was truly a full-circle moment as we talked about careers and UGA football. 

AND THEN ALICE WALKER WAS THERE AND MY HEAD EXPLODED. My high school classmate, Dr. Ebony Lumumba, was the chair of the festival and led an exciting interview with this literary icon. From The Color Purple to “Love and Happiness,” a time was had. You could feel the energy in the room. Especially when the Al Green classic blared across the room and our superpowers simultaneously activated to do the Electric Slide in the presence of a legend. 

I also met Walker’s daughter and author Rebecca and talked with her about BabyLove, a book she wrote about motherhood. I read an advance copy of the book in order to interview her when I was an active journalist more than 15+ years ago. Again, full circle feels really good when I’m surrounded by the love of Black women. 

I also ran into one of my favorite high school teachers at an event featuring Jesmyn Ward, an author whose books I am currently reading. Because I bought nearly all of them … 


Black women dressed in pink and green celebrate 20 years in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  A pink jersey with green lettering spelling Iota Kappa 03


Later in the month, I marked 20 years of membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (“for we know there’s no other …”) and presented research about Black women at the National Communication Association with my friends AND ran into one of the best professors of all time, Dr. Tina Harris. And visited NMAAHC for the 3rd or 4th time and was transfixed on the Afrofuturism exhibit, “Spirit in the Dark” exhibition, and my usual stops in one of my favorite places to visit. 

Photo of four smiling Black women after a conference presentation Picture explanation of Afrofuturism exhibit


December: I got word of a live Zoom with Oprah from my sorority. This event was open to the public, so I shared the details with my auntie who loves Oprah, and we logged on with 65,000 others to listen to an engaging discussion about “The Color Purple” movie with dozens of Black leaders from across the States. 

Screenshot of Black women dressed in purple talking about The Color Purple movie

Now, look: As a Black woman, this is OUR movie. We can quote it. We can re-enact it. We can discuss the multi-level trauma in the character narratives but also find the joy in the story of Celie. I had the pleasure of seeing the musical on Broadway with friends in 2016 and was looking forward to seeing it on the big screen. I’d watched the original film with my mother so many times, so it was great to watch the new installment with her on Christmas Day. 

During the Zoom, Oprah talked about this movie invoking the “spectacular,” and that’s how this experience was for me. That’s what Black women mean to me. We are spectacular.

World stop. Full stop. 

Looking forward to what 2024 will bring … stay tuned. 

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