Story 9: The Pacesetters

Thanks to the Pacesetters

Throughout all of history it was believed by everyone that it was impossible to run a mile in less than four minutes. On May 6, 1954 at Oxford University, Roger Bannister proved that was wrong and he ran the mile in less than four minutes.

Bannister didn’t run alone. He had two pacesetters leading him. As is often the case, history seldom remembers the pacesetters. The focus is on the one who broke the record.

Fellow runners Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher were the pacesetters for Bannister. Pacesetters set the pace. Because of the work of the pacesetters Bannister ran faster and at an effective pace.

Thanks to Bannister and his pacesetters, Chataway and Brasher, the month after Bannister broke the record someone else ran the mile in less than four minutes. It began to happen over and over again. Through Bannister’s examples others saw what was possible and consequently nearly 1500 people have run the mile in less than four minutes, including a sixteen-year-old and a forty-year-old runner.

Today, Vice President Elect Kamala Harris is the record breaker. She is the first woman and woman of color to be elected to the second highest position in the country. Her example will inspire others. They will see what she has done and know that they can do it also.

Vice President Elect Harris had her pacesetters too. Many women came before her and set the pace. They managed the race; they cleared the way. There are too many to name but Ida B. Wells, Shirley Chisolm, Barbara Jordan, Susan Rice and even Michelle Obama just to name a few, all helped pave the way.

They showed the country that women can be leaders. That black women can be leaders. And because of their example the country began to get used to seeing black women doing more. They found themselves being led by black women in other areas like school and work so why not politics?

All of us, including women of color, should be allowed to seek our highest potential. We should all be allowed to give and to lead.

I’ve always been surrounded by women that lead – my grandmothers, my mothers, my sisters and friends. They are all strong powerful women. Even the majority of my supervisors at work were women.

I think having women as leaders in our country just makes us stronger. Why would any society want to only use the efforts of half their members? I applaud our Vice President Elect and all those women that came before her.

And remember if you can’t be the record breaker, being a supportive pacesetter is honorable too.

The Four Minute Mile

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