Straight Talk, No ChasHER
“When you know you have been blessed, it is up to you to bless those around you. Just be a blessing.” Both statements appear on the last page of the recently released book, “Diva 2.0: 12 Life Lessons From Me To You”. The book was written by Emmy, Tony, Spirit Award winning actress, and activist, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who performed the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, during the Super Bowl LVII pre-game program.
An intimate audience of more than 500 filled the main ballroom of the Sonesta Hotel in White Plains, New York on Sunday, March 19, 2023 for a WestchestHER is LIT! event. Program sponsors included the Westchester Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Youth Shelter of Westchester, and the Sonesta.
Traci E. Alexander, fondly known as “Dr. TEA” and a Diva exemplar, engaged the definitely inspirational and vivaciously alive author in an uplifting conversation. By recounting her professional and personal journey to becoming a daringly inquisitive and valiantly aware woman, Ms. Ralph’s stage presence mimicked the positive energy penned on the 161 pages of her book. With almost five decades of experience in the entertainment industry, the life affirming lessons capsulized at the end of each chapter are worthy of dog ears for quick reference.
After exploring Ralph’s spiritually and culturally rich upbringing, the eyes and ears of the audience shifted from center stage to the center of the room during the question-and-answer session. Most of the complimentary remarks and questions were related to Ms. Ralph’s role as Mrs. Barbara Howard, the veteran kindergarten teacher on the critically acclaimed mockumentary sitcom, “Abbott Elementary”. When asked what Mrs. Howard’s character would tell her younger self, Ralph leaned in and responded that “A no today can be a yes tomorrow, so hold on to your dreams and keep it moving!” The story behind the response is noted at Chapter Five, “A Diva Doesn’t Quit”. The hit television sitcom of the 70s, “The Jeffersons”, and Ralph’s role as George Jefferson’s secretary, is also referenced.
In real life, Ralph is a mother and married to Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes. She was born in Waterbury, CT, raised between Jamaica and Long Island, and graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. Ralph made her screen debut in the 1977 comedy, “A Piece of the Action”, which starred and was directed by Academy Award winner, Sidney Poitier.
The Women’s Herstory Month event received additional support from the Greater Hudson Valley (NY) Chapter, The Links, Incorporated, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Zeta Nu Omega Chapter, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
The atmosphere throughout the evening was encouraging and heartening because the words of wisdom in the book spoke to the life experiences of many women; Black women in particular. For this reason and many others, “Diva 2.0: 12 Life Lessons From Me For You” would make a great gift for any divinely inspired, victoriously alive woman, whether young, young-at-heart, or somewhere in-between. It is available from wordeee.com and wherever books are sold. Special thanks to the Deltas of Westchester Alumnae for donating 23 copies of the book to the Youth Shelter Program of Westchester. Visit the Deltas’ Facebook page, facebook.com/dstwac, to receive a DIVA 2.0 update from the original Dreamgirl, Sheryl Lee Ralph.