Reflections of Attorney Lezli Baskerville, NAFEO’s 5th President & CEO & First Female President on Lessons Learned From Dr. Samuel L. Myers, NAFEO’s 2nd and Longest Serving President, at the Celebration of his 100th Birthday

(Read by Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Chairman of the NAFEO Board of Directors and President & CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association)

NAFEO’s current President & CEO for the past 15 years, wanted very much to be here this evening. NAFEO is a partner in this celebration because Dr. Baskerville holds Dr. Myers in highest esteem. She credits him with teaching her invaluable lessons early in her legal career, that well positioned her for such times as these.

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Dr. Baskerville was not able to be here this evening because she had to be in New York to address African Heads of State at the “Africa: Open for Business Summit,” attendant to the UN General Assembly meeting, about working through NAFEO and a collective of HBCUs to increase the number of African-ancestord people worldwide, who are entrepreneurs, and  otherwise engaged in commerce, and about  increasing the numbers of Africans from the Continent and elsewhere in the Diaspora who attain advanced degrees in STEM, a top growth priority for African countries in the African Continental Free Trade Area).

Dr. Myers., Dr. Baskerville wanted to publicly thank you for teaching her the lessons that are reflected in the things she has done well at the helm of NAFEO, not her many blunders for which she takes full responsibility! And she does not hold it against you that you did not give her Sam’s Secret Success Sauce, that would have enabled her to avoid the landmines.

Dr. Baskerville said she met you, Dr.Myers, when she was a Howard Law Student and you were the driving force behind the Adams v. Califano case. You taught her by example how to be a great advocate and put her on a path that resulted in her litigating HBCU equity cases in  18 states for more than 20 years. More importantly, Dr. Myers, she said you taught her by example how to be a person of greatest rectitude in the murky waters of Washington. You showed her how to walk and speak softly, but deliver a clear, profound and potent message. She recalls, fondly, that you walked quietly and circumspectly through the corridors of the dilapidated Lovejoy building, that the City donated to NAFEO for $1 during the mayoral tenure of Honorable Mayor Barry. You walked quietly and circumspectly  through the corridors of Congress,  always leaving  a mighty impact and often, a mighty blow. She indicated the you, Dr. Myers, were a global being long before others fully appreciated the importance of being global. You understood that by optimizing our interdependence and interconnectivity, Black folks worldwide, could accelerate the closing of the education, economic, wealth and health gaps, working together. She recalls your taking presidential delegations to African countries and to other places, worldwide, to cement collaborative research,  service, cultural, business, agricultural and other  agreements.

Dr. Baskerville said, not only were you a Global Man before many others, but you were a feminist when many men were not. She recounted that you had a richly diverse team of outstanding women leading NAFEO: the Elam Sisters, Dr. B. Pace Smith, Ms. Hannah Brown, Mrs. Michele Lewis, who we transitioned to the hereafter last month, who served as editor of the NAFEO signature publications; Ms. Christa Beverly, the research assistant for the NAFEO government relations office, Dr. Wilma Jean Roscoe, who she characterized as the other half of NAFEO’s dynamic duo and your full partner in the progress of NAFEO. There was also, Dr. Andrea Mickle who, after serving under Dr. Myers’ tutelage, ascended to the helm of Minority Access where she continues to serve masterfully.  Baskerville said, “Dr. Myers respected us, guided us, and let us soar. If he saw us sinking, he would gently call us in and provide more guidance. Dr. Myers affirmed, in the workforce, the values my father taught me, about the value of women of substance, honor, fortitude, and fight.

Dr. Baskerville said, in closing, “Dr. Myers, in the words of Sly & the Family Stone, I, want to thank you, for letting me be myself, again, and again; helping to harness my potential, sprinkling me with Myers magic, and setting me on my path that has enabled me to meld my profession with my passion for 40 years.

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