The Big Picture: Kathleen Parks
Kathleen Parks says, “What matters to me is peace, justice, and equality for all people. I am looking forward to a better and more peaceful world, a world filled with joy and peace and absent from systemic and structural racism, hatred, bigotry, and violence in our communities and neighborhoods, in our city and across our nation — a world our children and grandchildren deserve to inherit.”
Jefferson County Commissioner District C & American Slaves Inc. First Lady of Reparations for Slavery; Adjunct Professor, Bellarmine University
Married to Santino (Sonny), mother to Brian and daughter-in-law, Tanika and grandmother to Bria and Ayanna
What really matters to you? What matters to me is peace, justice, and equality for all people. In particular, Descendants of American Slaves (DAS).
Why does this matter, and has what matters to you changed in recent months? If so, why? Dr. Norris Shelton, founder and president of American Slaves Inc. and author of over 17 books on the subject of slavery, appointed me to the position of First Lady of Reparations for Slavery. Since my appointment, I was awakened to discrimination, racism, inequality, and injustice in America, through his mentorship. I was awakened to who I really am in America: an American slave or a descendant of American slaves. He taught me through his research and discovery that African Americans have not only been miseducated, as Carter G. Woodson discussed in his book The Miseducation of the Negro (1933), but we have been misidentified by the U.S. government. Read America’s Little Black Book by Dr. Shelton. We are not immigrants. African Americans were never certified through the immigration system. True African Americans come to America from the continent of Africa through the immigration system. We are America’s only child bred on American soil after being separated at sea and brought to America and sold into the horrific business of slavery. As a result of this awakening, I comprehend and understand the importance of reparations for our people.
Read The Renaissance Plan by Norris Shelton(2009) that discusses the need for the creation of cultural business incubators that will provide training in entrepreneurship, the development of new businesses specifically targeted for Descendants of American Slaves urban cities in the 21st century and provide a hand-up, not a hand-out from America. In particular, utilizing Louisville as a model city, my goal is to have a reparations resolution/ordinance/legislation bill passed through the Metro Council and House and Senate in Frankfort. However, due to systemic racism, the political climate of our commonwealth, and those who are still in fear of being perceived as politically incorrect, the task is difficult. However, I still believe it is achievable in this lifetime. It is the aftereffects of slavery, that have caused all of the wounds of racism, poverty, crime, police abuse, and gun violence to continue to fester throughout our communities in Louisville and across this nation. For example, the outcome of the Breonna Taylor case is the aftereffects of 400 years of slavery in our country that have never been resolved through an amendment to the constitution and in particular the criminal justice system. Until we deal with it head on, wake up from denial, and accept the two terminologies of us as a people: Descendants of American Slaves and Reparations, our people will never be free and reach the economic battlefield that Dr. King fought so hard for.
How do you incorporate gratitude into your life? I am a member of SGI-KY. SGI stands for Soka Gakkai International, which means value-creation society. I have been a member of this organization for over 30 years. I pray every day for world peace with our families, our communities, neighborhoods, and nation. We chant “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” every day to change poison into medicine within our lives and the lives of others.
How do you keep yourself calm in the midst of chaos? Believe me, I am far from perfect, and as a leader I do fall short and become angry sometimes, which is why I pray and chant daily. It calms me down so I can redirect my energies in a positive direction. Sometimes, as painful as it may seem, you may have to make a decision to leave some individuals behind, which may even be a family member or a long-time assumed friend.
What brings you the greatest joy? My greatest joy is spending time with my husband, family, and true friends in the movement for freedom, justice, and equality.
How do you bring joy to others? I believe it’s the small things that count. Sometimes, just a text message. I’m really not good at phone calls anymore, but I can certainly send a text. Finally, I pray for them to have good health and happiness in their lives and especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are you looking forward to? I am looking forward to a better and more peaceful world, a world filled with joy and peace, and absent from systemic and structural racism, hatred, bigotry and violence in our communities and neighborhoods; in our city and across our nation; a world our children and grandchildren deserve to inherit.