“Brother George!” the booming voice on the other end of the line blazed. It was Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
It was late July. He was in Nashville. I was near New York City.
We were chopping it up about a dream. A vision that one day soon he might visit my hometown, Paducah, and bring his sweet and salty messages of history, hope and honor to Paducahns. It happened on Sunday, November 14.
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson – iconic author, scholar, activist, TV personality, pastor and much more – lit a trail of dynamic purpose as keynote speaker at the NAACP/McCracken County event at Paducah Tilghman High School. It was billed as “An Evening” with him, a measure of “Truth, Healing, Love and the Power of Youth.”
Between our initial call and his speech, I moved to Louisville to become a senior director at C2 Strategic Communications. Only a few months before the speech, Dr. Dyson had moved from Washington, DC to Nashville to become a distinguished chair/professor at Vanderbilt.
We both were driven to Kentucky soil in practical and spiritual ways that coalesced in McCracken County.
That’s an amazing thing about “Building Kentucky.”
Our state’s most purposeful and enduring growth occurs with a connection of its longtime spectacular citizens and leaders with sincere outward contribution. Innovative outward ideas and commitments that craftily, artistically become homegrown. Elements and opportunities that Kentucky absorbs into its own special fabric.
This is what Dr. Dyson hammered in his keynote message.
Inclusion. Unity. Several voices becoming one voice. Multiple ideas springing forth in one unified course of action. One world. One Love. One state. A rejuvenated “My Old Kentucky Home.”
The audience was riveted as he proclaimed that before we come together, we must know about our history, untangle it and accept our differences… that you don’t’ have to be black to know that black lives matter… that the fight against sexism and toxic masculinity is essential… that the pain, agony and trauma of black youth is exponentially worsened by a black bourgeoise dismissal that increases the hatred of black youth dignity.
“If you don’t know,’’ said Dr. Dyson, “now you know.”
This man specializes in opening blind eyes.
In Kentucky, in his Paducah visit, he found them more open than he imagined.
About The Author
Thomas George features layered experience in crisis communications, media relations and marketing that provides clients with a seasoned resource.
He is a distinguished, trailblazing journalist who has won the trust and respect of some of the biggest names in professional sports for his insight, compassion and compelling storytelling.
George is a Western Kentucky University graduate and was inducted into WKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2015.