Lecturer, educator, author, sociologist and comedienne Dr. Bertice Berry took a humorous approach to conveying the message that people can use history to celebrate the past, plan for the future and improve themselves, as she spoke during the Tyler Black History Celebration on Saturday.
A proclamation from Mayor Barbara Bass was read proclaiming Saturday as African-American History Month Celebration Day.
The 36th stamp in the black heritage stamp series was unveiled by Chandler Postmaster Pamela Russell and Simone Jones, station manager for the South Tyler/Southeast Crossing Stations.
The stamp honors Rosa Parks, known as the “Mother of the Modern Day Civil Rights Movement” because she refused on Dec. 1, 1955, to relinquish her seat on a bus to whites in Alabama. Years later, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and other awards.
Dr. Berry, keynote speaker for the event, has hosted her own nationally syndicated talk show and also hosted a live talk show on the USA network. She has appeared on numerous television shows, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and ABC's “20/20.”
She also has written several best-selling books, including the memoir, “I'm On My Way, But Your Foot Is On My Head.”
Dr. Berry told the crowd that people have to look back to go forward and realize that the “the only person you can change is you and it's never too late to change.”
She asserted, “If we are going to change the world, we have to start with changing ourselves.” She sang about understanding men and women, where love is and where God is.
“How can we heal the wounds of the world if we cannot heal our own,” she asked, asserting that peace begins in the home.
Dr. Berry stressed learning from mistakes and not making the same mistakes. “You can't go forward without looking back from time to time. A rearview mirror is critical,” she said.
Dr. Berry advised listeners not to be so angry about what has happened that they don't make something happen. People have to look back to go forward and first recognize why they are here, she reiterated.
Insecurity leads to comparisons, which leads to jealousy, which leads to coveting, envy, strife and suffering, Dr. Berry said.
“If we dealt with our own insecurity, we wouldn't get down that road,” Dr. Berry said. She said people are made to love and should realize their place and purpose. “We have an individual purpose and a collective purpose,” she said.
“We are the ones who have to make the change in our life,” Dr. Berry advised. She further urged forgiveness, saying it means letting go of the need for restitution or revenge.
Coming together and creating real change has to start with the individual, Dr. Berry said. People have to love more and laugh more, be grateful and find people who lift them up, she added.