March 15, 2024

We were honored to host Judge Ashleigh Parker, who serves as a District Court Judge for Wake County, for our Black History Month Keynote Address speaker on February 21, 2024. In a powerful and inspiring talk, Judge Parker gave us an invaluable perspective on the true essence of power and how we can harness it to affect positive change.

In a world where the concept of power is often misconstrued, Judge Parker eloquently broke it down using POWER as an acronym, teaching us that it’s not just about having authority, but about how we use the influence we have to create impact.

P for Passion: Judge Parker spoke of the unyielding passion exemplified by figures such as Mazie S. Woodruff, whose fervor for education and empowerment paved the way for future generations. This passion is the spark that lights our path, the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of our pursuits.

O for Open-mindedness: The willingness to challenge the status quo, to step outside our comfort zones, and to embrace the possibility of failure as a step towards growth. This open-mindedness is crucial in a world that is rapidly evolving and increasingly interconnected.

W for Willingness: She reminded us that the largest African American owned and operated bus company in the world was founded and operated right here in Winston-Salem. She called on us to model the bravery and willingness to step forward and lead that the operators of Safe Bus showed, even in the face of adversity. This willingness to act is the mark of true courage.

E for Excellence: Citing Colossians 3:23, Judge Parker urged us to pursue excellence in all our endeavors, rejecting mediocrity—a standard our ancestors could not afford to accept. She highlighted the legacy of the NC Mutual Life Insurance Company as an embodiment of Black excellence and a reminder of our potential when we commit to excellence.

R for Resilience: Finally, Judge Parker called for resilience. In a world that often highlights our limitations, resilience is about showing what we are capable of achieving. It’s about rising every time we fall and pushing forward in the face of obstacles.

Judge Parker’s address was a call to action—a reminder that the power we seek lies within our grasp, manifested through our passion, openness, willingness, pursuit of excellence, and resilience. At Forsyth Tech, we are committed to embodying these values, to being a catalyst for equitable economic mobility, empowering lives, and transforming communities.

Let us all embrace the POWER we have, for it is only through our collective efforts that we can realize the promise of a brighter, more equitable future.

“With POWER, we have the power to make a difference for the next generation,” Judge Parker said, inspiring the entire room.