Inspiration Feed

Donovan Livingston's Spoken Word Convocation Speech at Harvard is a Classic

Enjoy this speech, in video and text, by Donovan Livingston, Ed.M.'16, student speaker at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2016 Convocation exercises. Instead of a traditional speech, he chose to communicate via spoken word and he is awesome. 

Donovan Lingston


Lift Off


“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin,

is a great equalizer of the conditions of men.” – Horace Mann, 1848.

At the time of his remarks I couldn’t read — I couldn’t write.

Any attempt to do so, punishable by death.

For generations we have known of knowledge’s infinite power.

Yet somehow, we have never questioned the keeper of the keys —

The guardians of information.


Unfortunately, I’ve seen more dividing and conquering

In this order of operations — a heinous miscalculation of reality.

For some, the only difference between a classroom and a plantation is time.

How many times must we be made to feel like quotas —

Like tokens in coined phrases? —

“Diversity. Inclusion.”

There are days I feel like one, like only —

A lonely blossom in a briar patch of broken promises.

But, hey, I’ve always been a thorn in the side of injustice.


Disruptive. Talkative. A distraction.

With a passion that transcends the confines of my own consciousness —

Beyond your curriculum, beyond your standards.

I stand here, a manifestation of love and pain,

With veins pumping revolution.

I am the strange fruit that grew too ripe for the poplar tree.

I am a DREAM Act, Dream Deferred incarnate.

And a movement – an amalgam of memories America would care to forget

My past, alone won’t allow me to sit still.

So my body, like my mind

Cannot be contained.


As educators, rather than raising your voices

Over the rustling of our chains,

Take them off. Un-cuff us.

Unencumbered by the lumbering weight

Of poverty and privilege,

Policy and ignorance.


I was in the 7th grade, when Ms. Parker told me,

“Donovan, we can put all of  your excess energy to good use!”

And she introduced me to the sound of my own voice.

She gave me a stage. A platform.

She told me that our stories are the ladders

That make it easier for us to touch the stars.

So climb and grab them.

Keep climbing. Grab them.

Spill your emotions in the big dipper and pour out your soul.

Light up the world with your luminous allure.


To educate requires Galileo-like patience.

Today, when I look my students in the eyes, all I see are constellations.

If you take the time to connect the dots,

You can plot the true shape of their genius —

Shining in their darkest hour.


I look each of my students in the eyes,

And see the same light that aligned Orion’s Belt

And the pyramids of Giza.

I see the same twinkle

That guided Harriet to freedom.

I see them. Beneath their masks and their mischief,

Exists an authentic frustration;

An enslavement to your standardized assessments.


At the core, none of us were meant to be common.

We were born to be comets,

Darting across space and time —

Leaving our mark as we crash into everything.

A crater is a reminder that something amazing happened right here —

An indelible impact that shook up the world.

Are we not astronomers — searching for the next shooting star?

I teach in hopes of turning content, into rocket ships —

Tribulations into telescopes,

So a child can see their true potential from right where they stand.

An injustice is telling them they are stars

Without acknowledging the night that surrounds them.

Injustice is telling them education is the key

While you continue to change the locks.


Education is no equalizer —

Rather, it is the sleep that precedes the American Dream.

So wake up — wake up! Lift your voices

Until you’ve patched every hole in a child’s broken sky.

Wake up every child so they know of their celestial potential.

I’ve been the Black hole in a classroom for far too long;

Absorbing everything, without allowing my light to escape.

But those days are done. I belong among the stars.

And so do you. And so do they.

Together, we can inspire galaxies of greatness

For generations to come.

So no — no, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning.

Lift off.


~ Donovan Livingston





The Successful Launch of OWN --- the Oprah Winfrey Network [VIDEO]

OK, Oprah Winfrey is my hero --- for real. Her amazing risk to start a new television network and not rest on her talk show laurels has garnered another win. This new network is fabulous. It’s the Church of Oprah 24/7 and that’s not a bad thing especially since so many people watch FOX-News. OWN is the antidote. Yeah, I went there.

The Behind the Scenes show is predictable but still interesting to watch. Some of the other entries on the OWN  schedule: searching for; Kidnapped by the Kids; Enough Already with Peter Walsh and Miracle Detectives are also nice but by far my favorite is Master Class. The first subject/teacher interviewed was Jay-Z and I have to tell you I was impressed. So impressed that I’ve seen it twice and probably on my way to seeing it again.

I know Jay-Z is a music icon; super rich and married to Beyonce. Beyond that, I’ve not been much of a fan. I do like his song “Hard Knock Life.” Since Oprah’s Master Class, I definitely respect Jay-Z. He is a personification of the result of the 10,000-hour theory discussed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers.” This young man, no different from someone like Tiger Woods, started early in mastering his craft. With a boom box purchased by his mom and a semi-handcrafted notebook given to him by an aunt, Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, learned the power of words.

Now, I figure that there are more Jay-Z’s caught up in America’s public housing system; public school system and the penal system. With proper focusing of talent, these young people may be able to transcend poverty and other societal ills if given the opportunity.

Jay-Z made so many profound statements during this hour-long show. He talked of the future of hip-hop; failure and success; goal setting and the power of music to combat racism among many subjects. It will be difficult for anyone to follow Jay-Z in the Master Class series and have the impact that he did. I read Twitter and Facebook comments about his episode and many viewers were impressed.

Some will likely complain that Oprah is too preachy and caters to whites but Oprah is just being Oprah. Everyone should have a purpose in Life and be true to him or herself. Oprah is a brilliant woman. Her messages are positive and most of the time transcend race to show the humanness and sameness in all of us. She knows her audience and knows the formula that works. With the everyday American citizen still reeling from the economy and other challenges, a little Oprah is good and a lot of Oprah is what we need. There is power in words and when combined with action, allows us to overcome anything. Thank you, Oprah. I am grateful to experience my OWN channel during my lifetime. To God be the glory. Now let the Church say Amen.


Related Links:

The Official Website of the Oprah Winfrey Network/OWN

Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers: The Story of Success"


© 2006-2011, Vanessa: Unplugged!, All Rights Reserved

Lessons Learned from Barack Obama

Regardless of the outcome of today's election, we are forever changed by the candidacy of Barack Obama for president of the United States of America. Senator Obama's campaign has brought out the best in people and the worse in others. We have seen the true character of our leaders and the rise of the people.

Yes, there has been a revolution in this country. Much like Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Malcolm X, Obama has shown us how to be cool under pressure. We have been reminded that the people control their own destiny.

What happens on November 5th and thereafter? The world will not change overnight. We will still struggle with downward spiraling economy, injustice, prejudice, a broken healthcare system and an education system in need of an overhaul.   

Senator Barack Obama has been tested during these last two years of campaigning. Whether it was the Hillary Clinton campaign or the McCain campaign, Obama stayed focus and on message. He has shown us how to handle pressure and to make sure that we are prepared for whatever task is before us. Preparation is part of Obama's secret as is many other effective leaders. Senator Obama has been consistently cool, calm, collected, and confident. Obama and his team out-prepared and therefore out-performed his challengers.

He put together a team that forever changed political campaigning and he has united people in a manner that has not been seen since the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Obama stayed focus, Obama stayed on message and Obama tolerated no-drama. You have to respect and admire a leader like that. Now, let's continue the positive change in this country.



© 2008, Vanessa: Unplugged!,

Vote for this blog for Best Political Blog and for Best Blog Design in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards.




Senator Barack Obama Deals with Loss

One can only feel compassion and empathy for Senator Barack Obama as he confronts one of the happiest periods of his life and one of the saddest. His maternal grandmother, Madelyn Dunham has transitioned. Obama suspended his campaign to visit her in Hawaii as her health worsened. The senator's grandparents shaped his personality and taught him a work ethic that he still demonstrates today. Senator Obama announced his grandmother's passing and continued campaigning as the polls will open in a few hours. Please view and sign her guestbook.

The senator is also coping with the loss of his Nevada campaign director, Terence Tolbert. He passed away after suffering a heart attack while driving alone. Tolbert was only 44 years old.    

Tolbert was a well-known and respected lobbyist in New York City. He is credited with Senator Obama's success in Nevada, a swing state.


© 2008, Vanessa: Unplugged!,

Vote for this blog for Best Political Blog and for Best Blog Design in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards.




We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For

I can never see this video too many times. It's message is simple and pure. We are the change we want to see in the world and we can make a difference. We sink or swim together. Vote for change and make a difference.

Spreading the Love in 2008

Wayne Hicks , the Villager over at Electronic Village honored me with a 'Spread the Love' Award. I've seen these awards on several blogs and I think some folks may take them lightly. Let the record show that I don't. Each and every award I've received has humbled me and served as motivation to keep doing what I do.

As one who started blogging without a plan or a niche or following any of the recommended steps and practices in the blogging process, I am honored when another blogger takes the time to recognize and appreciate what I post here and on my other blogs.

Villager is one of the folks I consider a master blogger. He's always on his game, posts regularly and his blog's flavor is definitely Obama-esque. The Electronic Village is transformative in the knowledge shared and the overarching ambience of unity of all Villagers. He is also one of the bloggers I've featured through my '20 Questions' interviews on my blog 'on the black hand side'.

I probably shouldn't be so honest as to share the fact that much of what my regular readers have enjoyed the most on my blogs were frequently those features and posts that I really hadn't planned. I could pretend it was all planned and I had it going on but that would be a lie. The truth is I listen to my inner voice and allow myself to be led. It's karma, the ancestors and the angels guiding me. For all of the nudges in the right direction I say thank you. For all of you who are subscribers and commenters, I thank you also.

With all that being said, I am spreading the love to Shelia, Invisible Woman, MarvalusOne, Karoli, Paula Neal Mooney and Linda. All of these ladies are shining examples of bloggers who uplift and inform. I am pleased to have them as blogging sisters and wish them many more blog posts to come.

Again, thanks for the love, Villager. Let's keep this train going.

From:  busterbus1963jp

Barack Obama’s MLK Day Speech

I was introduced to the video below by Villager over at Electronic Village. It is of Barack Obama's speech on MLK Day at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the church home of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This is an excellent MLK Day speech reminiscent of MLK and JFK.

Villager asks if Obama can unify America.

Obama can unify America; will Americans allow him to do so?

What I want my blogging buddies to know before 2008

Today is the last day of 2007. It has been some year. I've enjoyed the last week in that we're on break from the office and it allows me time to be with my Mom and take care of family things. Either fortunately or unfortunately, I do miss my job. That must sound crazy, but I do.

I've never worked harder in my life and that's a huge statement for folks that know me. I'm doing what I can to work smarter but some things are just not under my control. I'll do whatever is needed to get my projects finished because I really like my boss. She's so nice that I think I'm dreaming most of the time. This is our last week on break so I must complete several personal tasks over the never six days and then it's on and popping again. I guess I'm really not the housewife type because I really miss the phone calls and e-mails from my co-workers.

Two great things happened today and I'm claiming the same karma in 2008.

First of all, my mom came home today. Well, sort of. The medical transportation service didn't pick her up so my Dad brought her home for a few minutes. They said they waited more than 30 minutes. I know my dad doesn't like to wait for anything, so the transportation is sure to be the recipient of his wrath. Oh, well. I don't have the vocabulary to express what seeing my mom at home and walking did for our family. My dad took her back to the rehab center; I haven't seen him so happy in a long time. My mom may be released sooner than we thought. I know those of you who prayed had a lot to do with her progress. Thank you; I am eternally grateful.

Secondly, I finally found documentation needed that will allow my alumni association to receive a $1,000 donation. Thank you, Jesus. It had been two weeks of searching through boxes, file cabinets and briefcases to find that one little piece of paper. I'd looked in the box several times where I found it but I won't go there. Today was the deadline or we would have been SOL – sho'nuff out of luck. Needless to say, I scanned the document and saved on my computer and a couple of flash drives. I was going to make hard copies also but I thought that might be overkill; I'm trying to live a paperless life as much as possible.

Anyhoo, I'm looking forward to 2008. Thank you to everyone that has become my buddy, friend, associate and mentor since I started blogging. I am still having a blast with this and just going with the flow.

Here's to claiming an awesome 2008 for You. At the stroke of midnight, this is from me…


Why I Love Brad Pitt: Making It Right in New Orleans

Brad Pitt, Steve Bing Plan New 150-Home Community in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward

Brad Pitt expanded his commitment to New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward by announcing plans for a new community of homes in the area hardest-hit by the worst natural disaster in American history. He is partnering with Steve Bing in creating the 150 affordable and sustainable homes, which are the first effort of Pitt's "Make it Right" project.

Pitt announced his plan at the meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, where he challenged attendees to join him and Bing in rebuilding the Lower Ninth Ward. Pitt pledged to match $5 million in contributions to the project. Bing has pledged to match $5 million in contributions as well, for a total of $10,000,000 in matching funds.

The spirit of the community's culture is central to Make It Right. "The heart and soul of New Orleans, specifically the people of the Lower 9th Ward, are paramount to this project," said Pitt. "The words of one elderly man who is determined to return to New Orleans led to the name of our organization: he asked us, directly simply and profoundly, to help make it right. So that's what we're doing. We're going to help to make it right with 150 sustainable, affordable houses—houses that stand out for their design both aesthetically and structurally, so that these people can live in beautiful safe structures that respect their spirit and provide a good quality of life."

Continue reading "Why I Love Brad Pitt: Making It Right in New Orleans" »

How I’m Feeling…

The poem below was forwarded to me by a friend. I really needed it; perhaps it can help you also. Enjoy.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the
 people who treat you right. Forget about the ones who
 don't. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you  
 get a second chance, grab it with both hands.  If it  
  changes your life, let it.  Nobody said life would be easy,  
  they just promised it would be worth it.