Review of Daily Motivations for African-American Success by Dennis Kimbro


I’m a big fan of witticisms, pithy phrases, words of wisdom that have passed the trials of time, anything that keeps me motivated to strive to live my best life.

What we seek we find.

For example, while brewing up some nourishing tea this morning from a recipe that I love from Anthony William’s latest Spirit download, Medical Medium Liver Rescue (2018) I came across two quotes on the tea bag tags. One, from my Buddha Teas Organic Red Clover Tea, was anonymous. It read, “Don’t count days, make days count”. Right on!

The other, from Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Nettle Leaf Tea, was from Lord Byron: “There is pleasure in the pathless woods”.

And while as a black woman from New York I am wary of following literally Lord Byron’s implied imperative to go wandering around in the wilderness I think it is worth it to reflect on our lives as metaphorical pathless woods to make of it what we would; to forge our own trail(s), reveling along the way at the countless stars that guide us, the luscious scents and sights all around, the gift of observing the various creatures, near and far who make their way in and out of our journeys, appreciating tripping over a tree root protruding from the earth, prompting us to look down just in time to escape the more treacherous of the living making their way stealthily toward us…

I digress.

A few years ago my dear friend, Glennie, alerted me to a beautiful gift to the world in the form of daily gratitude reminders from Brother David Steindl-Rast through his Network for Grateful Living. Since signing on in 2014, every morning when I open my email I am treated to “A Word of the Day”, a fresh sentiment of profound gratitude that helps me reflect, put things into perspective, and set the tone for the rest of my day.

Two of my favorites that I keep over my desk in my home office are by the writer and activist James Baldwin and painter Gillian Pederson Krag.

The first, by Baldwin reads, “Not everything that can be faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed that is not faced”.

Nuff said.

The other, by Pederson Krag reads, “Art makes life bearable. It isn’t a luxury. Like our capacity for understanding and our experience of love, it is a vitally important part of life.

Again, nuff said.

Both are words to live by and I am richer for having my friend who shared this wonderful resource with me, for Brother David for providing such a remarkable service to the world, and for the many brilliant healers who have spoken their truths (these are just a tiny few of the “things” I’m grateful for).

This past last half of the year I have been equally inspired on the daily by a book that I rediscovered on one of my bookshelves and have consulted every morning since. It’s Dennis Kimbro’s Daily Motivations for African-American Success. Kimbro is also the author of Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice. Though it was published way back in 1993 I have found each entry of Daily Motivations to be relevant and instructive for those of us who are lifelong seekers.

As would be expected, the book begins on January 1stand goes straight through the whole year, to December 31st. As with his other books Kimbro is very much dedicated to providing motivation for African-American people to reach their fullest potential. As such,  Daily Motivations includes African stories and proverbs as well as African American narratives; some imagined, others taken from well-known and lesser-known historical and contemporary achievers (and underachievers), to motivate. Along the way, as I was, the reader may be exposed to African-Americans who have done some amazing things, but are not widely recognized.

Each entry has a title, a kind of teaser that sometimes, at first, seems unrelated to the day’s lesson. The title is followed by a quote from usually a famous African-American achiever. Each narrative or lesson is punctuated with a take-away; a kind of mantra or affirmation that one can repeat throughout the day to be reminded of the lesson and reflect on it.

I absolutely love Daily Motivations! This may be TMI, but I keep mine in my bathroom so that I can consult with it first thing in the morning–a great way to start the day.

I’ve even dogeared a few pages that speak to me and seemed to arrive at the right time.

A couple of my favorites:

April 25th: “The Light Is On and Somebody’s Home”, which ends with the affirmation: “I will be a point of light and light the path of others”.

July 4th: “Hallelujah! Free at Last”. The epigraph comes from Sojourner Truth and reads, “This colored people going to be a people”. The ending affirmation is “I will treat freedom with the respect to which it is entitled”.

If you’re familiar with the history of African and African diasporic people in this country, or at the very least, the venerable Frederick Douglass’ famous July 5, 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” in  which he reminds those gathered to celebrate the United States’ independence from England that for people of African descent who were still in legal bondage, July 4th was not their holiday, then you’ll know why this entry’s one of my favorites (definitely something to keep in the front of our brains as hard-earned freedoms are constantly under threat—and lest we be fooled into thinking that the contemporary moment is an anomaly, rest assured this has ALWAYS been the case).

My only criticism of the text is that it is VERY male-centric. As numerous scholars have pointed out, not the least of which is Angela Davis in her seminal work, Women, Race, and Class (1983). The fact is Black women have been at the forefront of socio-political and economic change in the black community since they first arrived on these shores. Can someone say Ida B. Wells or Madame C.J. Walker as two very obvious examples?

Make it known.

As I said, I found this book tucked away on my bookshelf sometime in mid-2018. It remains in my bathroom and on January 1st I started the morning off right with a new year of black genius!

What’s your favorite motivational text? Any recommendations?

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