Friday was the National Civil Rights Museum Freedom Awards.
Saturday was the A Pink Affair event.
And Sunday I received the incredible honor of being included in the opening ceremonies of the US Olympics Women’s Boxing Trials and was recognized as part of the Elite Eleven.
I had not even realized that Memphis had beat out LA and New York to host the trials and that the three exceptional young women representing the United in the Olympics in Rio for boxing were going to be chosen in Memphis that week.
These are some of the women who would be competing that week featured with Olympic Gold medalist, Rochelle Stevens.
Like a mom, my mother was by my side selflessly sharing her day with me. It was her birthday, but she spent it celebrating me. Because of the crazy busy day, we didn’t get a chance to celebrate her but hopefully we’ll do that soon. She said she enjoyed her day though, and that’s all that matters.
This is me and the birthday girl with London Olympic Gold medalist, Claressa Shields (I talk more about her in my Wednesday story).
For the Elite Eleven ceremony, I was just grateful to be among such amazing women many of whom I knew and admired. Those women included Soror Rose Flenorl who I had looked up to since I was in undergraduate school, Deborah Clubb who is the founder of the Women of Achievement Awards and had selected me for the heroism award in 2011, and Claudia Haltom who is the founder of A Step Ahead Foundation which distributes my books to each clinic that provides their LARC birth control methods. As I took a seat at a table, a lady reminded me that I she heard me speak five years ago and even said, “S.O. What!” with exactly the right attitude when as she explained she’s been following me. Her mother was being honored. That felt great.
And the person who presented me with the award was a woman I TRULY love and admire. Beverly Robertson was the Executive Director of the National Civil Rights Museum for many years including when I worked with her through my role at the Memphis Grizzlies in 2001.
It’s so weird to me how I still get nervous before I speak whether I’m speaking to 10 people or 1,000. So as I sat in my seat waiting to be recognized, my nerves began to dance a bit. However, they were overtaken by such a sense of happiness as I reflected on the connections in my life.
Brian and Russ Young own Prize Fight Boxing who brought the trials to Memphis with the efforts of Kevin Kane of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. I worked with Brian and Russ very early in my career with FedExForum helping to promote boxing events at the arena. I worked with Kevin during that time too.
I mentioned the connection to Beverly and Congressman Cohen as well as others. Then the entertainment performed. It was Kevin Davidson and the Voices, and they sang, “Born to Win”.
I did all I could to contain my tears.
Kevin Davidson and the Voices were the first group we brought to perform a post-game concert when I was with the Grizzlies, and they sang ” Born to Win”, and that song has moved me EVERY time I’ve heard it since.
As I went forward to receive my award, I just had to acknowledge all of this. I even did so quickly to try to obey the request to keep our speeches short. But man, I was full!
We were also asked to acknowledge one thing that was key to our success.
I said, “FIGHT”.
It was the first word that came to my mind and it later, honestly, occurred to me how fitting it was for the occasion. I directed part of my speech to the whole audience and part only to the young women boxers, most of who were no older than my son. I acknowledged that I would never want to fight any of them physically but that…
“…in order to survive and succeed we all need internal fight.”
And that’s my secret to success. An internal fight that just won’t surrender.
And here’s my fellow fighter. Our styles are COMPLETELY different, but I love my mom and the quiet fighter in her that has kept her strong. Happy Birthday, Ma!
Follow this blog or sign up for the S.O. What! newsletter at www.summerowens.com for notifications as I write about the rest of the days in this incredible sequence-
Monday- Memphis Grizzlies Tip-off Luncheon Tuesday-Women’s Foundation of Greater Memphis Power of the Purse Auction Wednesday-US Olympics Women’s Boxing Trials