originally published in THE PENN

Marching 7/4 written by Lori Ferguson
Issue date: 2/7/05 Section: Opinion

Keith Beauchamp is the personification of persistence.If you were in the Ohio room Tuesday as this gifted filmmaker kicked off this year’s Black History Month with a sneak preview of his documentary “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” you know exactly what I am talking about.If you missed out and didn’t hear the odyssey of its creation, here’s the gist: Beauchamp researched the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till for over nine years, risked his life repeatedly traveling around Mississippi meeting with witnesses and family members of Till, funding this crusade with money his parents had given him for law school.Beauchamp said in a New York Times interview, “I put my life on hold to work on this case.” Why would he spend his life this way? Because at age 10, Beauchamp witnessed the horror of Till’s mangled body within the pages of Jet magazine. This image stayed with him, and he felt a calling to seek justice for the murdered boy — and to remind all of us of the atrocities we are capable of to prevent history from repeating itself.The fruit of his labor was realized in the May 10, 2004 reopening of the case — a worthy beginning to reparations due by society for this crime.Beauchamp’s persistence has inspired me to redouble my efforts toward success.Continued health problems and family issues recently pushed me into dropping down from a full-time credit load to part-time status. In fact, I’ve been so exhausted and frustrated that I almost dropped out completely.Yes, you read right: Little Miss “Follow Your Dreams” almost fumbled the football.Completing my college degree while being a disabled mother of an active five-year old is a challenge, as will be getting books published or films produced, but hearing Beauchamp speak — and seeing the film itself and what fate befell Emmett Till — put my life into perspective, and I realized that if Beauchamp could manage what he did in the face of such adversity, I could succeed as well.I return to my path renewed, just a little bit wiser, and a lot more determined. Thank you, Keith Beauchamp, for following your dreams and for sharing them with us!While I whole-heartedly endorse Beauchamp and his message, I do have to contradict him on one point: I don’t believe he put his life on hold while working on this project. This was his life as he chose to live it, and in my opinion, it is a life lived well. I would be honored if someone were able to say that of me, upon reviewing my life’s work.You may not have such lofty goals, but your role in society is just as important. Do you possess the persistence you need to succeed?