This Black History Month, we wanted to learn about the personal histories of women we admire — so we asked changemakers to tell us about a Black woman in their life who has been crucial in shaping who they are today.
In this installment, Zuri Reed talks about her mother, who encouraged Reed to go after her dreams. Reed is an actor known for her roles in “The Get Down” and, most recently, “National Treasure: Edge of History.”
My beautiful mother, Sheree Reed, commands any room she walks in. That probably comes from her years of teaching noisy students, but it is truly powerful. I strive every day to walk through life with her level of confidence.
I was taught that no matter what, I was enough.
It’s why when I think of powerful Black women, my mom is undoubtedly my first pick. She is the ultimate Black woman! She is a business owner, educator, and an inspiration to many of those around her. I have watched her care for those in need, sacrifice her wants for others, and ultimately give her all to guide me in the direction I wanted to go, all with the most poise and grace.
There are times when I hear her voice in the back of my head saying, “What is for you, is for you.” So simple, yet so profound. She taught me at a very young age to always be proud of my chocolate skin, love my natural hair, and lead and never follow. As a young Black woman, I appreciate that now more than ever. Watching my mom lead by example was one of the best lessons I could’ve ever had.
Ultimately, I know that this is what’s expected of every parent, but what my mother also gave was nonjudgmental, unconditional love and support. Parents tend to be very protective and cautious when it comes to the risks they allow their children to take, especially concerning their education and career choices. The entertainment industry can be very risky. But my mother saw my desire to sing and act at an early age. She made sure that I was well-rounded and educated so that I could go in any direction that I wanted to professionally. She never once told me that my choice to pursue a career as an actress was a bad one. Instead, she put me in the position to go after what I loved. I was taught that no matter what, I was enough.
— As told to Lena Felton
Image Source: Stephanie Diani and Photo Illustration: Michelle Alfonso