Camille O. Cosby and Renee Poussaint believe, as do legions here and around the world, that the wisdom of our elders is our most valuable resource. “Longevity has its virtues,” said Martin Luther King Jr. in his now famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” A Wealth of Wisdom, edited by Cosby and Poussaint, serves as profound evidence of the abundance of those virtues.
A Wealth of Wisdom is a collection of stories, experiences, and observations of more than fifty African Americans, ages seventy and over, including Maya Angelou, Ray Charles, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, David Dinkins, Katherine Dunham, Dick Gregory, Robert Guillaume, Coretta Scott King, Gordon Parks, and Andrew Young. Accompanied by portraits by famed photographer Howard L. Bingham, the accounts by these pivotal leaders take us behind their historic public moments to their underlying personal realities.
Camille O. Cosby and Renee Poussaint collected the stories of these national and regional leaders as a part of their work with the National Visionary Leadership Project, an organization they founded to ensure that the lessons learned from our country’s African American elders are preserved and passed on to the young people who will be the leaders of tomorrow.
The women and men included in this groundbreaking book represent every region in the nation, plus a wide range of professional and personal lifestyles. They are clergy, educators, artists, healers, military leaders, politicians, architects, social scientists, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, grandparents and advisers.
These visionary elders are the living embodiment of our ongoing history. They are men and women whose commitment and abilities shaped this country, and in particular its African American community. Their extraordinary stories allow us to understand how we as a nation got where we are. Their insights can help us, especially our younger generations, determine where we are going.
A Wealth of Wisdom offers all of us a chance to sit at the feet of our most accomplished elders. As Geoffrey Holder declares, “Find your great-aunt or your favorite godmother, and ask them questions. They’ll give you all the answers — their way. They are the writers of the book.”