Las Vegas, NV—
It’s Sunday afternoon in the Paris Hotel and Casino ballroom and the local chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women awaits the keynote speaker, Sheryl Lee Ralph. Acclaimed actress and original Dreamgirl, her presence is captivating but the message she belts out from the podium is both riveting and demanding.
“I am a social entrepreneur. I am here to tell you that the country is hurting. It is time for us to use our strength, our business network and community to take on the ills that plague our children. All our children,” she says, pointing to the attendees. HIV/AIDS, Chlamydia, pregnant thirteen year olds, is not the typical conversation of luncheon awards ceremonies. These are not common times in our country today. Sheryl Lee demands our attention, time and effort.
“Look around, have you forgotten Katrina already? Go back to your home towns, schools, communities and teach OUR children that education is the ticket out of poverty.” She implores the audience for “just one of you” to raise a voice of objection over women degrading lyrics in music. The crowd cheers and applauds with every call to action.
“Take our pride and strength as professional business women of all colors, and make a difference. Pay a compliment, offer a hand, do something nice for someone else. You will never know where your next blessing is going to come from,” she shouts. I am proud to be in this room today. The energy around me is a vibrating buzz for social change charged by Ms. Ralph’s chorus, “I am an endangered species, and Sometimes I Cry.”
Sheryl Lee Ralph performs a one-woman show: Sometimes I Cry, about the lives, loves and loses of women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.