"Rainbows, after storms. You cannot have a rainbow without a storm first."
After the Rodney King verdict came down, so many things just went dark in the community I loved so much. The community I still love. But not all things were negative, in the days and weeks and months that followed.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters and her local leadership group, led by Brenda Shockley as I recall, stood up their vision of and for Community Build. Today, Congresswoman Waters serves on the financial services committee for Congress, continuing to push her agenda for her people.
Then City Counciman Mark Ridkey-Thomas, who today is an esteemed and accomplished lead member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. I fondly remember Supervisor Ridley-Thomas for so many reasons, but a couple stand out for me. Mark (as I respectfully call him as a friend) served on our first board of directors for Operation HOPE. I remember our parting conversation. It was our first letterhead. We were committed to "eradicating poverty across America," and Mark (Ridley-Thomas) wanted to eradicate poverty and empower people IN THE 8TH DISTRICT! We were both right, but Councilman Ridley-Thomas was more right than me. He was 100% focused on empowering and serving the people in the district he was elected to serve. This impresses me now, as much as it impressed me then. I was sad to see Ridley-Thomas leave our board back then, by I so respected "why" he did it. I also got the phrase "With HOPE," which has become my global signature sign-off statement on all correspondence, from Mr. Ridley-Thomas. Finally, back then I would say that Ridley-Thomas was the only sitting elected official who really knew and understood community development, community empowerment, and the power of financial dignity in one's life.