Do Something Good: 91-year-old woman passes pearls of wisdom to young girls of color
She serves as a mentor, leader in the community
MADISON, Wis. — When Velma Ritcherson speaks, you can hear a pin drop. She can deliver such incredible impactful messages in just a few words.
At 91 years old, she’s Doing Something Good by empowering young African-American girls in our community.
Velma grew up in Texas in the 1940s. She was raised in a time when she was repeatedly told “she can’t.” But Velma replaced the word “can’t” with words like “can” and “will.”
“The obstacles that I had and others in coming up the racial inequality, all of the blockages, all of the you can’t do you shouldn’t do because you are,” Velma said. “We have different shadings, but we’re human beings.”
I met this tremendous woman through Wisconsin Women of Color Network, Inc., a group we are both proud to be part of. I…
She attended Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, where she met her husband Les. After they were married, they had two boys, Lewis and Rod. Together they moved to Madison in 1966 and Les became the first UW-Madison African-American assistant football coach.
Velma is part of the Madison chapter of the not-for profit, the Links Incorporated. The group empowers girls in Madison Middle Schools by giving them support and guidance through a workshop called “Yes, I Can! Yes, I Will!”
“I don’t have the answer, I’m just trying to be part of the solution in the little bit that I can do.”
While she doesn’t believe she has all of the answers, her words speak volumes.
“You will it, and you can do it because you can have help along the way,” Velma said. “You should be able to stand in front of the mirror every day and say, ‘I am beautiful, I am worth it, I deserve it.'”
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