INVENTING DARLA/I’m glad I didn’t listen!

• Sidney Poitier was told after his first audition that he should go out and find a job as a dishwasher because he’d never make it as an actor.
• Dr. Seuss received 27 rejection letters from publishers for his first book, “To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.”
• Beethoven’s music teachers told him he was “hopeless as a composer.”
• A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

I’m glad they didn’t listen.

I’m glad President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Cathy Hughes, Michael Jordan, Tyler Perry and Jennifer Hudson didn’t listen, as well.

Naysayers have their place.

I’ll never forget when I was told by my high school guidance counselor that I should take up a trade. She said my SAT scores revealed that I wasn’t college material. It didn’t matter to her that I was president of my senior class, a National Honor Society member, a lettered athlete, a member of the honors chorus and an all-around overachiever. There were many times I wanted to send her a ‘Thank you’ card. I thought about her after I had graduated magna cum laude from Hampton Institute and, again, this past December, when I completed my second masters at Drexel University with a 4.0.

Then there are those well-intentioned folks who don’t mean any harm when they say, “Baby, you’ve been working on that dream for almost 30 years; you should cut your losses and get a real job.”

Bless their hearts.

All while they are talking, I’m thinking of Madame C.J. Walker, the first known African-American woman to become a self-made millionaire. Her inventions revolutionized the hair care industry and sealed her place in history as a leading business pioneer. I know there were many who didn’t see her vision and wanted to keep this Southern woman in the cotton fields. I’m glad she didn’t listen.

I didn’t listen, either.

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  • Anita Adams  On April 27, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    Please don’t give up. Always keep striving for the top, because you are the best and glad to be a part of your life.

  • Mel Worthan  On April 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    You are an inspiration to me and I am truly blessed to learn from your journey. I pray that God grants you all of the desires of your heart not just on your birthday but everyday as you have worked hard and sacrificed greatly to be who He wants you to be. Your faithfulness, grace, intelligence and wit are all the characteristics I strive for in my daily walk. Thank you for giving me someone to look up to. I love you from a distance but with the same passion as those physically close. Happy Birthday to a wonderful mother, wife and woman!


  • Niya  On April 27, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    GREAT POST! I’m glad you didn’t listen either! It’s hard to listen to people when you listen to the voice of God! I LOVE YOU!

  • Debra  On April 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Darla… Naysayers… Nay they say what? Congratulations on your continued achievements and success… Like the tortoise, slow and steady wins the race. The drive to Accomplishment keepa us grounded. HAPPY BORN DAY!

  • Jeri  On April 27, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Happy Birthday to you!!! You go girl!!! Love ya.

  • Myra Hicks  On April 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    My friend, on this very special day, I’m truly glad that you didn’t listen! Your accomplishments in the past few years have been breath taking! You weren’t moved by your circumstances, only by your inner voice! You weren’t moved by those that say “no you can’t”, only by your God who say’s “you can do all things”, you weren’t moved by lack of ….., only by your faith, that “He would open windows and pour out blessings!”. Yes my friend, the more they said no you showed them YES I CAN! Love you and Happy Birthday!

  • Robin Jackson  On April 27, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    KUJICHAGULIA – “self determination” – Darla there are many words which I can use to describe you but “self-determined” is fitting for this moment. The determined spirit which you possess has always be evident and is still strong now – I wrote a poem years ago entitled when Man Says No You Can’t – God Always Says Yes You Can!!!!! Keep your perspective and focus on the end results because you’re destined to be a success. Happy Birthday! and May God Continue to Bless Your Life!

    Robin Jackson

  • V.Robinson  On April 27, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Happy Birthday my Sistah. They say no you can’t, but what does God say? And what do you feel? Stay self encouraged and continue to work towards your dreams! Enjoy this day that the Lord has made. I’m glad you are listening to your heart.
    Love You.

  • Roy  On April 27, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Awesome – you are a true example of success, integrity and authority! Happy Birthday!

    Son 3

  • K Lynn Dreher  On April 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Fabulous! I am so very proud of you. I remember when you published your first book of poetry. I know I will have my Niya Doll soon.

  • Madeline LaCore  On April 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I’m so glad you didn’t listen. Thank God for you and your persevering spirit. And thank you for a beautifully written blog. As always, you have lifted my spirits and given all who read this blog something to think about in the pursuit of their dreams. Happy Birthday!!

  • Kim  On April 27, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    When you are a child of God, quitting is not an option! Keep going girl! I think every person of color has been given the “Give Up Your Dream” speech from at one point in their lives. We just have to make sure we don’t give that speech to each other, no matter how well intended we may be. God bless you!

  • Dominique Wright  On April 27, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Messages like this are a true inspiration to me. I am a junior Broadcast Journalism major attending Hampton University. Throughout my life I have faced several adversities. Having a strong support system was one of the weapons that helped me combat those who said I would never succeed. Messages like these helped me understand that everyone is not going to believe in me. But what is more important is that you believe in yourself. Take those tumbling rocks and turn them into stepping stones. Words have a funny way of impacting one individual at a time. Keep inspiring people! Continue to write! You have the power to impact a generation. Thank you Darla!

  • Cheryl  On April 27, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    So true Darla. I did listen to my art teacher in high school when she told me I didn’t really have “it.” I think after that time I really lost my desire to draw. Never let anyone steal your dreams.

    Happy Birthday!

  • t.r. mickle  On April 27, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Bishop T.D. Jakes said “if you are going to be successful you have got to get over what people think of you.” Holding on to a dream is the mantra every college grad gets on their illustrious graduation day. However, after you experience your first ten year graduation, maybe even another decade will you still be able to hold on to the vision after your friends, classmates, even cousins have gotten married, became entrepreneurs, had children, bought that 5 bedroom house straight off the cover of Architectural Digest and you’re still left holding on to the dream? I made up my mind a long time ago, that even though people really didn’t mean any harm when they whispered YOU STILL TRYING.. (you finish the rest) that no matter what I was gonna hold on and see what the end was going be. Glad I’m not alone in the race.

  • Anne Denmark  On April 27, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    What a creative way to celebrate your cake and candle day! This way we all get to rejoice with you and eat your sweet, delicious words of encouragement.
    Blessings dear sister,
    Anne Denmark

  • Daniel v  On April 28, 2011 at 1:23 am

    Happy birthday Darla! Wishing you many more years of greatness. See you seen in a cap and gown!

  • Linda  On April 28, 2011 at 2:04 am

    I am so happy that you did not listen and have always strived to accomplish goals you set for yourself regardless of the challenging circumstances. Your words of widsoms are imspiration to all people to believe in yourself and your dream. I am proud to say that I know Darla Davenport Powell, the inventor, writer, poet, drummer, teacher, Sorority sister,and most of all my sister in Christ.

    Love Ya,

    Linda Manier

  • Nigel Powell  On April 28, 2011 at 2:42 am

    I’m glad you didn’t give up, the best revenge is success, you taught me that. I Love You and keep up the good work =)

  • nigel  On April 28, 2011 at 2:48 am

    I’m glad you didn’t give up, you are a true inspiration for me and the best revenge is success, which you taught me =). Love you mom and keep up the good work. Also Happy Birthday!!

  • Shirley  On April 28, 2011 at 3:07 am

    I am praising God for your persistence. If you had given up[, We probably would have never met!!! I agree with your friend who said that when you are listening to God, it’s hard to listen to people. I will continue to pray for you and hope that your Birthday year is filled with blessings that overtake you!!!

    Love you!!

  • Robert  On April 28, 2011 at 4:04 am

    I’m so glad that you continue to listen and are obedient to Him, who is able to do all things and who intercedes to the Father on our behalf. I’m so glad that our families are one and that God will continue to use and bless us more abundantly; knowing that His grace and mercy are already more than sufficient. You keep following your dreams and listenening to your heart – because there you hold the greatest reward, His love!

    Your brother in Christ,
    Robert G.

  • Wayne Powell  On April 28, 2011 at 4:05 am

    My love, this year marks our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Wow!!! Not only am I glad you didn’t listen, I’m glad you continue to stay the course God ordained for you. The prophet Jeremiah stated “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). What I have learned about you is that you can’t yield to anyone other than God. He wired you that way so you have no other options. You encourage me each and every day. I see you at your lowest points, only to sing your way through it, always singing God’s songs of praise and thanksgiving. I pray for you more than you know. Not only for you, but for the world that continues to ignore one of God’s most precious gifts. On this your birthday, your father wanted me to remind you “Keep your head up and keep it in the road.” Alway remember, other than my love for God, you are my reason for being.

    Love and Blessings Always,

    Your husband

  • Jose Chavez  On April 28, 2011 at 4:39 am


    Just wanting to wish you a Happy Birthday and let you know that we at Drexel University have been blessed with you talent and synergy in bring people together to accomplish great feats together.

    Professor Chávez

  • Veronica Jefferson  On April 28, 2011 at 5:37 am

    BLESSED BIRTHDAY!!! I thank God for you and your family! From the day I met you…i said to myself “that woman exudes excellence”. “I’m gonna sit right her at this party and soak up some of her wisdom and positive energy”. (I had no intention of staying that night…in fact I think i left my dinner on the stove cooking). I thank God that you continue to use your many talents and gifts for his GLORY!!! When I see you….I see JESUS!!! Love you sis! Keep on keepin on…in Jesus name!

  • Ora Williams  On April 29, 2011 at 11:29 am

    From the day I met you I saw that you were indeed a woman of God. You walked the walk as well as talked the talk. You are truly an inspiration to all who come in contact with you. As others before me have said, I too am glad you did not listen. Keep on inspiring and blessing others with your words of wisdom. Have a Happy Birthday and may God sontinue to shine upon you.

  • Patricia Patton  On May 7, 2011 at 4:58 am

    You said it all. Rev. Anthony often quotes African Proverbs and one he has stated many times is “When all has been said the only thing left is to close the meeting”. Amen.

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