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Straight No Chaser: Quiet Storms Who are Worthy of Mention

Op/Ed By Gloria Winston


gloria newRecently I was asked by someone younger than me which leaders I consider to be worthy of respect in the local community.

And, aside from my hard working, passionate, and spiritually grounded mayor, Lovely Warren, I managed to quickly list over 20 folks who I have come to respect, and would consider to be trustworthy leaders in this community.

The respect and admiration I’ve determined I have for certain folks has been born from a variety of attributes which they possess.

However, each of the individuals also have one thing in common, and that is their humble, and honest, spirits.

The names that will follow truly are quiet storms, and are individuals who my readers may or may not be familiar with, but they are those who I believe are the true movers and shakers behind the scenes in this community.

Some of the individuals I will mention I have gotten to know up close and personally.

Others I will mention, I have watched from a distance, and learned through others how genuine their actions and community concerns have been.

All of these quiet storms are builders who are not in the demolition business; even though, at times, they’ve faced opposition which has been comparable to receiving a lit stick of dynamite.

However, before I proceed, let me first give my DISCLAIMER, for those who will have much to say, or wonder why they did not make this list of quiet storms.

First of all, my space is limited.

Second, just because your job title suggests you are a leader does not mean I respect you, or the how, and why, you have chosen to do what you do.

Third, this is not personal, and I really don’t like to name names in certain instances, because I am always confident there is someone that I may have failed to list.

So, just because they have failed to make this list, it doesn’t mean there are not others are who are quiet storms, and humble as well. It’s just that those I will list are the ones who have come to my personal attention.

Don’t get it twisted, like some of you like to do, please.

And, as always, please charge any oversight to my mind, and not to my heart.

I will be 71 in July, so I feel entitled to oversights.

I will share with you my list of quiet storms, alphabetically.

I almost called this list, “Those under 40 worth watching,” but, as I began to list the names, I realized I had old men like Michael Avent in the mix.

Michael, for those of you who may not know, is the playwright and brainchild of a stage production that has yet to gain the traction, and support, of which it is more than deserving.

But, then again, this is Rochester.

This city has, within its confines, many cliques. They exist with the selfishness and the inability to help others, depending on who you are.

I personally admire Michael Avent and his steadfastness.

He is not a quitter, and I suspect that he will give out, before he gives up on his cousin Cholly Atkins story finding its way to the stage.

Simeon Bannister has recently been elected to public office in Henrietta, and, in my opinion, should be leading the Monroe County Democrats.

He is an intelligent, clean-cut, articulate young man who grew up in a household with parents who had strong political and community ties.

I just wish he lived in Rochester, and could run for office here.

Isaac Bliss, LaShana Boose-Stanford, and Terrell Brady have also made it to my list of quiet storms, because of the things they have done to help others, consistently.

Isaac and Terrell both move quietly, but they also carry big sticks.

And, I hope LaShana runs for office again, because she never should have lost the last election, which was by a mere seven votes.

We should have more candidates like Lashana.

And, Dr. Leonard Brock is probably more visible than most in his age group.

In spite of the fact that the reins around him are tightly wound, I suspect he will be more than successful in his intent to bring about change.

His goals remain consistent, and community-focused.

In addition, Michael Bruce is a home-grown, humble talent who has an ear for music, unlike some.

The vocal direction he lends to “The Cholly Atkins Experience,” and to the singers in particular, is more than noteworthy, and has commanded my fullest respect.

Sirena Cotton has been one of the hardest-working women in the community, who has seldom been recognized for her efforts, and her intent to increase the peace in our community.

She does not need cameras following her around, or applause on every corner to get it done.

When it comes to Pastor Melvin Cross Jr., I do not know him personally, but I have met him on more than one occasion, and his powerful spirit makes it completely understandable why his followers find it easy to support him.

Jackie Dozier is another unsung hero who this community does not recognize enough.

She has been the epitome of what a giver looks like. Unfortunately, she has sometimes been overshadowed by the takers.

Adrian Elim, or, as he calls himself on Facebook, “Gatekeeper Adrian,” has exemplified the courage it takes to make change. He is clearly unbossed, unbought, and unsold, and his focus on economic development on our community is more than noteworthy.

Vince Felder is also on the list, and he will continue to receive my support, as long as he continues to do his homework.

I think Melanie Funchess should run for Congress.

She is one of the most intelligent, and articulate activists this community has ever produced.

LaShay Harris may be a newcomer, and a history-maker in the political arena, but she has been working on behalf of her community with a spirit of genuine concern.

I hope politics does not ever change her perspective.

And Kareem Jay Hayes is a brother who happens to be a photographer and an author, yet, he moves quietly.

In addition, Sabrina LaMar does not know this, but she is one of my favorite people, has a heart of gold, and is one of the more sensitive people who is always willing to help others.

And Willie Lightfoot, though he is no longer in office, has not disappeared from this community and continues to promote and participate in efforts for our youth.

My publisher, Dave McCleary, also takes his share of bumps and bruises, but he has hung in there, and is still publishing a quality weekly newspaper for the Rochester community, Syracuse, and the local Hispanic community.

Even though I have given him gray hair at times, he is not afraid of controversy.

He supports me, and I love him for it.

Elder Patrick McNair also does not know how much I respect him, for not allowing other wannabe political pastors to bully him into their messes, or their controversies.

When he arrived in Rochester, over eight years ago, he brought his own shoes to the dance.

Adam McFadden has also continued to garner my respect by becoming less vocal, and more action-oriented.

I think the time has come for him to seek state or federal office.

He has enough respect beyond Lake Ontario to make it happen.

Another politician worthy of mention is Ernest Flagler Mitchell. He is the real McCoy.

He puts his heart and soul into every endeavor.

If anyone who calls himself a man of God has made me believe it, it is Ernest.

Few can question this man’s motives.

He is a man who loves his family and his community, and is not afraid to say so.

Commissioner Baye Muhammed, my manager, also walks tall and quietly. Seldom have I seen him without a smile, even in the midst of adversity.

Amen Ptah also has gifts that will benefit our youth, and this community.

Ken Sayres is another mover and shaker, whose strong presence and honesty are easy to see.

And, last, but not least, is Tracy L. Williams.

Limited space will not permit all me to say all that I would like to say about Tracy, who is a father, author of three books, restaurateur, motivator, land baron, developer, activist, horse-racer, all-around fearless entrepreneur, and empire-builder.

He is someone anyone would be proud to call a friend. His love for this community, and his generosity are second to none.

Where he finds the energy to do all that he does is a mystery to me, but he obviously has a handle on his gifts, and his guided journey.

He is certainly one of the most humble folks in Rochester.

There you have it.

Remember, these are the folks who have gotten my attention, and landed on my radar screen for one reason or another.

However, this list is not inclusive of the many folks whom I have not met, or may not be not aware of, who would qualify by definition to be a quiet storm.

Nonetheless, look for the aforementioned. They are no doubt somewhere assisting in the community as we speak, or sitting right next to you making a difference, minus the benefit of a press conference.

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