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How to recognize a legacy - Denese Rodgers

My phenomenal assistant came in on Tuesday talking about a discussion she'd heard on the radio regarding which four American women would be best suited to be immortalized on a female version of Mount Rushmore.

Let me say up front, that I do admire the accomplishments of those who've gone before me. I just disagree with what it would take to do such a project. All of that time and money, to further deteriorate what acid rain and human beings are already desecrating just doesn't seem to be the right way to go about it. Legacies need to breathe and procreate.

I think I may have a better idea.

It should be relatively simple to come up with say, 100 of history's most influential American dames. Then, rather than engraved imagery, let's do scholarships and internships in their honor, and work on eliminating the glass ceiling.

Another idea? All great ladies had to be from somewhere. We can combine economic development with legacy. Have their hometowns create whatever customized, honorable recognition of these ladies. Then, we can utilize our existing information channels to generate interest and revenue around those monuments or museums (or art galleries, or gardens).

Could you see how interesting it would be to tour neat little cities in Georgia to see all their hometowns? Take a peek at Georgia Women of Achievement (www.georgiawomen.org) and you'll see they are from all over the Peach State.

One of my favorite great ladies is my mom. She is from Cairo, Ga. For all of you of northern descent, that is pronounced KAY-ROH. I don't care how they pronounce it in Egypt. We ain't in Egypt.

Back to Cairo. It is a nifty, little town dang near at the Florida border. It is not known for Karo syrup, but it is known for the Roddenberry pickle plant. When Mom get's placed on Georgia Women of Achievement, we can take a bus tour down to try some sugar cane juice (good for what ails you) and look at the Cherokee Rose Vines. Have her tell you the story about when the pickle plant burned.

One lady who already has the GWA honor is Moina Belle Michael from Walton County (which was named after one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence). She is responsible for the poppy flower being a symbol and tribute to WWI soldiers and veterans.

Another Georgia girl is Lucy Craft Laney from Augusta. She was the daughter of a former slave, and she opened a charter school for black children (the Haines Normal and Industrial School), the first kindergarten for black children in Augusta, and the first black nurses' training institute.

In 2005, two management consulting firms, Caliper and Aurora, identified a number of distinguishing characteristics about women leaders. Women leaders are persuasive. They learn from adversity. They demonstrate an inclusive, team-building style of problem-solving, and they are likely to take risks.

But, if you'll notice, it doesn't say anything about self aggrandizement.

So, if they're going to be remembered, we'll have to do it for them.

Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-service, networking organization in Henry County.