The Central Texas African American Family Support Conference was a big hit this weekend in Austin, Texas. The mission of the conference is to strengthen African American families and individuals awareness of available health care services, through education, supports, and partnerships. I was fortunate to be able to attend and watch my wonderful husband be honored for his outstanding efforts in health and human services throughout Texas. As I was sitting in the audience, I couldn’t help but feel good about being surrounded by black people doing big things during Black History Month.
The keynote speaker of the conference was Lucille O’Neal… Shaq’s mama! She spoke honestly, full of vigor, inspiration and wisdom. Ms. Lucille moved me to tears with her stories of struggle with alcoholism and teen pregnancy to the joy of being able to get a college degree as an adult, funded by her son. Some words of wisdom that stood out in my mind were,
- “Dream Big.”
- “Value Life.”
- “Believe in Yourself.”
- “Love can heal in a way that medicine can’t.”
- And my favorite, “This is your journey. Make it count.”
After her candid speech, Ms. Lucille opened up the floor for questions and then did a book signing. She gave me a big hug and autographed my book with these inspirational words that I will hold dear to my heart,“To My-Cherie, Anthony and McIntosh, Thank you for your support. Stay together and remain focused. Family is your greatest support system. Peace, Lucille O.”
Ok, it’s official. I love me some Lucille O’Neal!