[column type=”1/2″]Historians tell us that the most important reason to study history is to learn from it. Other social scientists remind us that knowing the stories of our forbearers is a source of pride and inspiration. Thus, celebrating Black History Month, and other heritage days, weeks, and months, is an opportunity for our schools to help students build self -confidence, teach lessons of resourcefulness, and honor our ancestors.

Here at the DPS Foundation we believe that every young person has the potential to grow up to do something great. That does not mean that everyone must be someone great. It does mean that we can make a difference in the lives of others no matter our occupation or our career trajectory. To understand how this might be possible, we must study our history.

The life of Oseola McCarty is a clear example of a story from which we can learn, and an individual from the recent past that we should honor. Ms. McCarty dropped out of school in the sixth grade in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She became a washerwoman and earned respect for her work ethic, as well as for the performance of her work with dignity and quality.

When Oseola McCarty retired from her job as a washerwoman at age 86, she had acquired lifetime savings of $280,000. She kept some of these savings to live on, gave 10% to her church, 10% to each of three relatives, and donated $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi. Though she had never been to the school she wanted to provide scholarships for African American students to attend the university.[/column]

Ms. McCarty did not have a formal education herself, yet she understood the value of education. With reference to her gift she stated “I am proud that I worked hard and that my money will help young people who worked hard to deserve it. I am proud that I am leaving something positive in this world. My only regret is that I didn’t have more to give.”

Oseola McCarty taught us that hard work does not bother you if you love that work. She taught us that we can be satisfied with less than others may have in material goods. She taught us that having goals and planning to achieve those goals leads to success. Knowing her story teaches us that everyone can do something great, no matter our station in life.


[success_box]“If you want to be proud of yourself, you have got to do things you can be proud of.” – Oseola McCarty[/success_box]