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What If...

Harriet Tubman had accepted her fate and the fate of other slaves not conceiving The Underground Railroad leading slaves to their freedom?

Frederick Douglass had remained silent?

Rosa Parks had stayed in the back of the bus?

Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t follow his Dream?

US Representative John Lewis hadn’t accepted his calling to build bridges and opportunities along with Dr. King and others to fight for freedom, equality, and basic human rights for those who’d never been given a voice.

Katherine Johnson hadn’t gotten angry about her talents being “hidden” and didn’t demand her space in history?

Barack Obama hadn’t accepted the call to lead his country?

Kamala Harris had feared she didn’t have the strength and fortitude to shatter several glass ceilings without feeling the trepidation of being ripped to shreds?

What if my parents (with me in tow to witness their courage) and the parents of my friends hadn’t congregated in our community during the Civil Rights Movement to challenge the injustices happening in our town?

1940s photo of an NAACP meeting held upstairs at the YMCA, then on Church Street in New Castle, Indiana. Charles Modlin (father of Debbie Edmunds) is sitting in the back by a lamp. His late wife, Grace, is seating behind the lady with her arms folded over a program in front.

1940s photo of the Rose City Male Chorus. Picture in the front row (l-r) Sam Tyler, Dewey Banks, Jessie Young Thurman, Martin Dean, Thelma Thurman, and unknown. Second row: Miles Bassett (7), Arthur Thurman (8), Donald Archey Sr. (9), Tom Ross (10), John Thurman (12), and Mr. Boatwright (13). Back row: Charles Modlin (father of Debbie Edmunds) (14), Oran Bassett (15), Wayman Modlin (16), and

Gene Thurman (17).

You see all of these historical figures were oppressed and aggressed against. What if they had repressed and denied their emotions and feelings about what was happening to them and those around them? What if they had allowed their victimization to continue only for their descendants to be victimized as well? They wouldn’t have answered the call of their passions and paved the way for others to experience something greater than they had been given.

When you see someone who appears angry at an injustice find out how you can support them in pursuit of their passion to create equality, justice, and respect for all. Lean into that person rather than fleeing them assuming that they can’t manage their emotions or feelings about the things they have witnessed and/or experienced themselves. What you see is someone who is making life healthier for themselves and so many others because they haven’t denied their anger. What if their anger is the very thing that infuses them with life and ignites their passion? They are not victims.

You’ve seen so many historical figures and living figures choose to improve the world because they have experienced injustices and tragedies and their anger is a catalyst for change. They somehow find their courage and their voice. Many of these figures have changed the lives of countless others all over the world for the better and yet remain hidden. You are hearing the voice of a person who has decided she isn’t going to go away quietly and suffer in silence because her voice hurts the sensibilities of some.

You see I have challenges that some days seem insurmountable, but somehow I go to bed each night asking what if tomorrow is brighter for me and someone else because of something I’ve done.

Some day it is my sincere hope that someone can recall my name and say she had a voice and was a catalyst for change.


Debbie Edmunds, Licensed Professional Counselor, MA, LPC-S, CART obtained her MA degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. She has amassed over 40 years of experience working in vocational rehabilitation, brain injury rehabilitation, and mental health with people of all ages, walks of life, and various cultural backgrounds.

Debbie has worked in hospitals, residential treatment centers with youth ranging from 12-17 years of age and has been in private practice since 2002 focusing on helping those ages 12 and above and their caregivers who’ve experienced traumas and who have used self-injury learn to cope and to heal.

Learn more about her practice-H.O.P.E. Psychotherapy of Houston, and her proprietary products for emotional support.

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Amanda Esquivel
Amanda Esquivel
Feb 03, 2021

A quick read and insightful perspective. We have a tendency to label certain emotions as “good” or “bad” due to how one typically reacts. It’s interesting to consider that although anger can result in a negative outcome, it can also be a “catalyst for change” that drives someone to work toward bettering themselves or their community – especially in the names of equality and respect for all.

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