In honor of Black History Month, we asked a few of our Black Equity & Excellence Fund Advisory Council members to reflect on who has inspired them to be their best selves – making Black history right here in CNY. Here’s what Naquia Lacey said:
Each day as we interact within our various communities across the United States of America, we bear witness to the numerous contributions from our African American or Black community. The month of February in America is dedicated to celebrating the countless achievements of African Americans both past and present. Evidence of influence from the African American culture has been embedded into the inventions, technology, education, theatre, music, dance, healthcare, sports, politics, religion and within the very fabric of our daily routines. Every community has pioneers that have paved the way for others to follow in and expound upon their footsteps in an ever-tedious journey to achieve equity for those of African American descent while showcasing virtue in the face of opposition. These pioneers inspire others experiencing a similar struggle to want to do something to change and hopefully improve future outcomes for themselves and others. Some of those trailblazers are well-known in the national sector, while others are nestled into the background, supporting the backbone of our individual communities.
The person who inspires me and others is my mother, Kimberly L. Riley. Kimberly is an educator within our very own Syracuse City School District, where she has been teaching for over 20 years. She is also an active member of the local Zeta Phi Beta sorority, which dedicates countless hours of time and resources to our community in the form of service. My mother has influenced me by modeling how an African American woman is to conduct herself in a society with many obstacles in her way. My mother was the first in her family to graduate from college and to also receive her master’s degree from Syracuse University. She taught me to value education and she always encouraged my siblings and me to take the baton to the next step—wherever that step landed in our individual paths. She inspires my strength, determination, inquisitive nature and my drive to be the most productive version of myself that I can be.
I chose my mother, not only for her personal impact on my life, but also for the myriad of lives she has influenced in the CNY area. She not only acts as an educator for many of her students, she is also an advocate, counselor, confidant, and often a haven of love for those who may be missing structure and guidance from home. Many times, the supplies her students use and learn from are purchased from her own funds—but she never complains or neglects to ensure her children have access to the resources they need. Working on the front lines, she is guiding our young children to become successful contributors in our society.
Her charitable work extends outside of the classroom and into the community through her active participation in the Zeta Phi Beta sorority. Every month, sometimes several times a month, she offers her time, resources and energy to our community. She serves food to our residents without housing, participates in clothing drives, brings awareness & strategy about concerns plaguing the Black community, and participates in and organizes many other community-building projects. Kim never looks for recognition for her tireless works and charitable actions. She relishes simply in the accomplishment of helping others. It is my honor to celebrate this courageous woman of God for Black History Month.
Naquia Lacey MSN, RN-BC
Clinical Training Specialist, Joslin Diabetes Center, SUNY Upstate Medical Center
Black Equity & Excellence Fund Advisory Council Member
Click HERE for more information on the Black Equity & Excellence Fund.