February 11, 2024

Black History Month Spotlight: LaKissa Bright

Can you share a bit about your personal background and heritage?

I grew up in Denver, CO with my mother, a single mother to three daughters.  My father also lived in the area, was married, and had four sons.  We lived in the inner city which was very diverse, but what we had in common is that we struggled financially.  I remember vividly the first time I realized the difference in cultures and the importance of me identifying with my black culture.  It happened after I graduated from high school and got accepted to the University of Northern Colorado, which was a BIG deal for me as a first-generation college student.  I was so excited to embark on that new journey away from home and make my family proud.  Once I got there I was surprised to see that there were very few students who looked like me.  Coming from the inner city and having lived in diverse areas all my life, I wasn’t prepared for that.  I struggled with my identity, my hair, fitting in, my shape, the list goes on and on.  It was a very difficult time.  My saving grace was the Marcus Garvey Cultural Center on campus.  This was the place where black students came together to study, hang out, watch movies, play games, and just be in each other’s company.  We did each other’s hair, talked through cultural issues, prayed for each other, and made it through together.  It was the only way I survived four years and was able to get my college degree.

Reflecting back on that situation and thinking about life today as a businesswoman, youth advocate, and community activist, I still strongly believe it is important to be culturally connected.  I think all of us have to have a “safe place,”  where we feel seen, heard, and comfortable just being ourselves.  I also believe it is important for all cultures to be in community with one other.  Diversity is extremely important and things happen, mountains move, and lives are changed when we do it TOGETHER.  As the Founder of Ladders for Leaders, diversity is one of my core principles.  It is my goal to maintain a diverse organization which includes the students, staff, and board of directors.  It is my hope that most students can see themselves in one or more of our team members and they can feel seen, heard, and feel comfortable just being themselves.

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