Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Levi and Lillian Watkins Taught Me How to Respect Women - Donald V. Watkins 

Levi and Lillian Watkins Taught Me How to Respect Women
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on July 5, 2017
Scores of friends have asked me why I am so passionate in my fight for justice in Megan Rondini's case. The answer to this question lies in my family background.
My father, Dr. Levi Watkins, was the president of Alabama State University from 1962 to 1981. He was the patriarch of the Watkins family. My mother, Lillian Bernice Watkins, was the family's matriarch. Together, they were the epitome of class, character, and the acceptance of personal responsibility for one's actions.
My parents, who are now deceased, were my real-life heroes. They formed the yardstick by which I have measured the class and character of everyone I have met in life. We don't get to pick our parents, but God gave me two of the best parents who have ever walked the earth.
Levi and Lillian Watkins were my best friends, my spiritual leaders, and my role models. They taught me how to be a strong man, how to respect women, how to deal effectively with bullies and bigots, and how to stand up for what is right, even when I have to stand by myself.
As was the case with my grandparents, Adam and Sallie Watkins and Willie and Etta Varnado, my parents raised each one of their three daughters and three sons to become loving and caring community leaders. They loved to inspire, motivate, and support their six children. To them, educational excellence was the surest pathway to a better life.
My oldest sister Marie has a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California at Berkley. Her pioneering mathematical algorithms and inventions for Bell Laboratories and Lucent Technologies in the 1980s paved the way for the modern era of telecommunications and the electronic transmission of data around the world. My sister Pearl, who died in 2009, became a nationally known concert pianist and popular music teacher. My brother Levi, Jr., who died in 2015, became a world-renowned heart surgeon at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. His pioneering work with the implantable defibrillator resulted in Levi being nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. My sister Doristine became a highly successful educator and school principal. My brother James became a well-respected surgeon/wound care physician in Charlotte. I, of course, became a lawyer, journalist, and entrepreneur.
All of my sisters were older than me. They were strong, independent, and highly intelligent women. My mother and sisters were my first female role models. They nurtured my growth and always blocked for me on the playing field of life.
My parents stressed a healthy respect for humanity and a mastery of knowledge, skills, and abilities. To them, service to humanity was the cornerstone of greatness. Even then, this service had to be rendered with compassion, kindness, humility, respect, and a thoughtful consideration of the circumstances of others.
They worked long hours as educators and community leaders to enhance the quality of life for the thousands of college students who were in their care over the decades. They loved, respected, and protected these students.
In my parents' world, everybody was entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. No one was ever allowed to disrespect or abuse women (or any other human beings) in our presence. If any such disrespect and/or abuse occurred, it was our duty to stop it.
We were trained to use adversity and obstacles as opportunities to exercise our minds and to build our endurance. We grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, during the civil rights era of the 1950s and 60s. These were turbulent times in the South, especially for African American families. Yet, our parents maintained a wholesome and loving family life; taught us how to rebound from adverse circumstances with resilience; and sustained our family's honor and solidarity.
Throughout the course of life, one document has guided my siblings and me along our journey. It means more to us than anything else in our possession. It is titled, "Certificate of Birth," and it lists Lillian and Levi Watkins as our parents. There are only six of these certificates in the world and I hold one of them. No matter where I go or what I do in life, I will always be Lillian and Levi Watkins' ambassador to the larger world, and I will always strive to represent them well.
Levi and Lillian Watkins would expect me to stand up for Megan Rondini and other women who have been disrespected and/or abused. In 2014, I publicly stood up to powerful Montgomery federal judge Mark E. Fuller at a time when each and every public official in Alabama refused to condemn his vicious wife-beating conduct. Fuller was forced from the bench in 2015 after I exposed his propensity for violence toward women and his serial marital cheating with female courthouse employees.
Standing up for Megan Rondini is my way of honoring the legacy of Levi and Lillian Watkins, promoting respect for women, and providing for the safety and security of daughters like my own who are University of Alabama students. 

Donald V Watkins

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