Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Looking Back - Moving Forward: A Future Worthy of Our Past

Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Looking Back - Moving Forward: A Future Worthy of Our Past

Article excerpt

When I was asked to deliver the keynote address for this momentous occasion and before this most prestigious group, I was so honored, I did not hesitate a minute. I quickly said yes. After the initial jubilation and elation wore off and recognizing the fact that I had a very short notice, reality set in. I asked myself, what have I done? What can I possibly say to such a group that they don't already know and take an hour to say it? I began to feel uneasy. Dr. Tucker-Alien told me the theme of the conference and that helped to allay my anxiety somewhat, but I still had a daunting task. Again, I asked myself, "I don't know what I can say to this group of intellectuals that would hold their attention for one hour." Now panic took over. After letting myself indulge in self pity for a few minutes, I said, "these are my colleagues; talk to them about what we all can relate to - nurses and nursing."

Thus, I began my search to prepare this talk. I re-affirmed many of my beliefs and convictions while preparing for this presentation. I re-affirmed that nothing is new. Everything is cyclical, even knowledge. I re-affirmed that you can do anything, if you put your mind to it and if you are willing to put in the time to make it happen, even in the face of adversity. I re-affirmed that your thoughts, ideas and opinions are as good and as important as anyone else's, but no one will know it if you do not share them. By that I mean, you must communicate your ideas and disseminate them in a medium that is accessible to others. If you have a good idea, if you have done something in the classroom or the clinical area that made a difference with your students, with your patients or with your colleagues, publish it. Because it you don't, somebody else will. And when you see it in print and you will, you will say to yourself the same thing I said to myself; "those are my ideas; somebody came in the middle of the night and picked my brains and robbed me of my ideas, and now somebody else will get the credit for it."

Let me share with you the basis for my statement. In preparing for this presentation, I recalled a topic a colleague and I had discussed while writing a paper some time ago. The topic was, "Looking Back While Moving Forward." The topic seemed appropriate given the theme of the conference. So I decided that would be the title of my presentation. I had completed a rough draft of the paper when I received the latest edition of the journal, Nursing Education Perspectives. As always I perused the table of contents. Guess what? There was an article entitled "Looking Back Moving Forward." The moral of this story is, don't sit on your ideas, don't procrastinate about the excellent and innovative work you are doing, don't put off writing and submitting your writings for publication. Just do it. Now let's look back so we can move forward.


The Sankofa Bird is a symbol of wisdom whereby one learns from the past to build the future. Sankofa means "go back to the past in order to build the future," or we should not forget our past when moving forward. Sankofa teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we must reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, foregone or been stripped of, can be reclaimed, revived, preserved and perpetuated.

Now I will ask you to take a walk back in time with me. As we look back over our very wonderful past, let us capture just a few events and critical issues that have helped to shape what and who we are today. But before we go back, I would like to begin by asking the question: Who are we? We are nurses, but really who are we?

We are African American, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American. We are young, middle aged and seniors; we are female, male; we are single, married, divorced and widowed. We are educators, administrators, practitioners, clinicians, and researchers. …

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