I know around 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 1, 1955, the world changed. When a department store seamstress named Rosa Parks simply refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, the world changed.
I know at 1:25 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, 1965, the world changed. When 25,000 people gathered at the end of the Selma-to-Montgomery March to reinforce the civil rights movement, the world was still changing.
From my office window, I can see the historic street and the state capitol where these world-changing events occurred. And, 50 years later, the world is still changing today.
We are changing one country, one nation, one state, one community, one chamber of commerce, one association, one person at a time. I included chambers of commerce and associations because they are, and should be, huge players in driving the change. I’ve often said I love the field of chamber of commerce and association management because we have the capacity to be true “change agents.”
In his speech from the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Selma-Montgomery Civil Rights March, President Barack Obama said, “Because Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person. Because the single-most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We The People.’ ‘We Shall Overcome.’ ‘Yes We Can.’ That word is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.”
Well said, Mr. President, well said! I’m proud to be from Alabama. We haven’t always gotten it right. In fact, many times, we got it terribly wrong! But, what a great notion that we continue to get a chance to make it better, to make it right, both here at home and across our country.
One of my favorite quotes is attributed to noted sociologist and anthropologist Margaret Meade: “Never doubt that a small group of committed individuals can change the world, indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
So, before you go to bed tonight, ask yourself if you changed the world today? Did your chamber of commerce or association embark on a path of change? If not, when you wake up tomorrow, let’s set out to change the world, together.