By: Donald V. Watkins
November 25, 2021
Today is the day many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. This celebration has been a tradition in the Carmichael/Varnado/Watkins family for six generations. This is the day we set aside to give thanks to God for all of the blessings HE has bestowed upon our family each year.
As a fourth generation progenitor in the Carmichael/Varnado/Watkins family's line of descent, these are some of the things I am particular thankful for this on this Thanksgiving Day:
1. God has blessed me with five wonderful children who have always made me proud. In turn, these children have given me eight exceptionally gifted grandchildren. My children and grandchildren are fifth and sixth generation progenitors who know their documented family history, dating back to the 1830s. They know who they are, where they came from, and where they are going in society. The fifth and sixth generations of family members grew up knowing no cultural and geographical boundaries. They are multilingual in their communication skills and international in their travels and experiences.
2. All Watkins family members have enjoyed wonderful childhoods that were filled with love, learning, and respect for humanity. All of us grew up with our heroes in our homes. We were never condemned to serve a life sentence in a prison of social mores that dictated who we could love and how we could love them.
3. We continue to lead America in biomedical research, the production of entertainment content, and breaking down color-barriers in business and technology. As we have done for six generations, Watkins family members always seek to impact society in a positive way.
4. We continue to educate, motivate, and mentor the most gifted minds in America. As we have done since my father co-founded The New Herald newspaper Clarksville, Tennessee in March of 1935, we continue to publish regular, clear, thoughtful news and editorials on matters of significant public interest to a diversified readership.
5. We are bridging the cultural divide between the African-American and Hispanic communities nationwide. These two communities have much in common. One was decimated by slavery in America, while the other is under attack in "Red States" and along the southern border of the United States. Both communities have been the victims of long and ugly period of unrelenting economic, political, racial, and social discrimination in America.
6. Together with like-minded Americans of interracial goodwill, we are forming a California-based political action committee (PAC) that focuses on mitigating the pervasive adverse impact of national domestic policies that hurt Americans of color, women, religious minorities, and the LTGBQ communities through voter education, registration, and participation activities that target at least two million Independent voters six swing states. We expect that the PAC will be fully funded at the $10 million level in time for the 2024 presidential elections.
7. With blessings from God, the Carmichael/Varnado/Watkins family has been able to "give forward" by fully funding academic scholarships at: Alabama State University (Montgomery), Tennessee State University (Nashville), Spellman College (Atlanta), LeMoyne-Owen College (Memphis), Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Nashville), and Johns Hopkins University Medical Center (Baltimore). Individual education-related financial assistance has also been awarded to deserving students in the United States and abroad. With God's continue blessings, this family can and will do more.
8. My three living siblings have been incredible sources of love, strength, and support throughout my life. This has been a personal blessing for me. We started out as six children born to Dr. Levi Watkins, Sr. and Ms. Lillian Bernice Varnado Watkins in the 1940s and 50s. Two of our siblings are deceased. My siblings and I always knew that we were six of the luckiest people on the planet because we were the only children in the world who possessed "Certificates of Birth" that listed Levi and Lillian Watkins as our parents. To this day, my "Certificate of Birth" is the most cherished document in my possession. Nobody can ever take this away from me. The accumulated and earned goodwill that is derived from our "Certificates of Birth" will always trump the value of material possessions or money.
9. We are thankful for the abundance of high-quality, life-enhancing opportunities that continue to come our way. However, we also realize, "To whom much is given, much more is required." As a family, we have always embraced the opportunity to serve humanity without seeking favor or recognition. With God's continued help, we can and will do more.
10. We are thankful for the opportunity to commune with God on a daily basis. There is no greater love than the love God has for all of His children. Without a doubt, God has favored the Carmichael/Varnado/Watkins family for six generations.
For these blessings and many more, the Carmichael/Varnado/Watkins family is thankful on this Thanksgiving Day!
We wish all of you a very happy Thanksgiving Day! Enjoy this time with your family, friends, and loved ones.