It was May 22, 2006 when I finally mourned the death of my grandmother. After 14 years I began to understand the magnitude of her death. Frankie Payne’s death did not hit me on April 10, 1992 like it did while watching Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball. It was on this night between 8pm and 9pm that I realized the power of Frankie.
She was quick-witted, sarcastic, and brutally honest. She was the epitome of Dorothy Height’s courageousness, she was dedicated to life like Cecily Tyson, Frankie Payne was the essence of Ruby Dee’s beauty. How I loved my grandmother!
She was my momma, my auntie, and my grandma all in one. She was everything to me. Frankie Payne told me how to behave in public and she demanded that I respect and honor the black woman. Not only was she the behavior checker she was the evaluator of my girlfriends. She set the standard. How I miss Frankie!
Eventually, while watching the MOVING special presentation, my thoughts began to drift from grandma. I started to think of my relationships with the black woman. I began to think about the pain I have caused. I began to re-evaluate what I want and desire from the black woman. I immediately thought of the marvelous bonds I have created with women whose make-up includes tenacity, love, beauty, intelligence, creativity, elegance, passion, support, and humility. All of the women invited to Oprah’s home to celebrate black femininity have these wonderful personality traits. Traits every black man wants. How every black man needs a Leontyne Price!
No black woman on the face of this earth should say, ‘There are no role models for me.’ From Ashanti to Gladys Knight there is a model for the black woman to emulate. The icons are in the black woman’s reach, and the black girl on the Southside of Chicago has someone they can say is my heroine. On career day at Salem Elementary School every little black girl can proudly say with confidence, ‘I want to be just like McMillan, Keys, Reese…’
And, for the black man we should all be able to say, ‘The black woman has been there and she continues to support me.’ A display of support like Coretta Scott King gave to a man who changed America. How I want a Rosa Lee Medley, Mary Payne-Scott, and Demetress Johnson!
We, black men, have witnessed via the Legends Ball broadcast that black women can get together without “chatting” about each other, without backstabbing, without gossiping, without looking angry, and without disrespecting each other. Now, it is time for us (black men) to step-up. We have to do our part by combating and defeating the barriers we have created and remove the curtain of division that has pushed black men and women a part. Ultimately, it is time for the black woman and man to rededicate ourselves to the development of the black family.
Black man, will you join me? Black woman, will you help and continue to support us?
Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by the memories of Frankie Payne. Inspired by one of God’s gifts to the world: Oprah Winfrey.
For more information on the Legend’s Ball please visit this website: http://abc.go.com/primetime/legendsball/