Brain Food: Beverly Malone - If I Had to Start Again

Article excerpt

If I could really sing, I'd have loved to be a gospel singer.

I grew up around people who had incredible voices, so that was something I always yearned to do. I was raised in Kentucky by my great-grandmother, who was a healer in the community. She could only read at the third-grade level, and her mother had been a slave, so she put all her expectations and hope in me. I knew early on I'd go to college and get into nursing.

Kentucky was a segregated state. The whites lived on one side of the tracks, the blacks the other. But I had the luxury of a really close community.

My schoolteacher was a person I saw in church and at the store, who'd taught my mother and my grandmother. She'd tell me I was smart like my mother. Comments like these showed me that I had something to offer the world and were building-blocks for my career.

But even as an adult, it never crossed my mind I'd work in Europe. I was working for the Clinton administration, and his term was coming to an end, which means clearing everyone out. …