Unsung Heroes: Basslissa Dow
Every February, the United States commemorates Black History Month. Throughout the month, Ella’s Voice will be profiling some of our favorite unsung heroes of Black History To contribute to this series, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
My mom was very unconventional in the 70’s. She was 19 and fresh out of Catholic school with a couple of S.F. City College units under her belt, riding with the Rattlers--a motor cycle gang, and pregnant with me. In the 70’s, she was not going to live in my 2nd generation Catholic grandparents' house with a child out of wedlock. My grandparents gave her one option- go to a nunnery, put me up for adoption and return home.
My mom made a second option for herself. It was an unconventional option. One that only the brave and/or foolish would contemplate. She walked out the door with no idea of where she was going. She left with faith and knowledge that lemons are awfully sour, but that they can also make a refreshingly great thirst quencher on a warm, sunny day.
That’s why she’s my hero. From that position of self guidance, determination and trust, my mom became a revered mother and wife. She reared 5 children, an adopted son, two nieces and a neighborhood of other Baba’s kidz—all of whom called her mom. Her her favorite words of wisdom to all of us was, "Don’t let yo mouth write a check that you can’t cash!”
I love my mom a great deal; she was unconventional, outspoken and never fell short on pearls of wisdom. She was also the first to teach me the art of communication and code switching. Rest in peace my unsung hero: Bassilissa Dow-Benard.
Anthony joined the Ella Baker Center team in 2011 as the Finance and Executive Assistant. He often misses his mom dearly this time of year.