Been There, Done That, Wrote the Book

Maceo Keeling - SCORE Member, Business Owner and Consultant. Photo: Urban News

Maceo Keeling – SCORE Member, Business Owner and Consultant. Photo: Urban News

By Maceo Keeling –

When we think of great African American leaders we often think of celebrated people for whom history has shined a bright light.

We rarely think of those unsung heroes who stood on the front lines of the movement and sacrificed for our sake. Many of those soldiers are still among us. We have grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters who have (past-tense) lived the history that we read about. They can untie the knots of confusion and lies we sometimes read regarding African American people.

Our elders hold a wealth of knowledge and information. I am talking literally about insights on how to become wealthy, healthy, and wise.

Our American culture seems to be enamored and amazed with things that glitter and appear to be new. In fact, many of the things that capture the interest of our younger generations today are little more than refashioned or repurposed remnants of our elder generations’ glory days.

Should you find time to spend with an elder, consider this an opportunity to gain wisdom and good judgment. What I’ve learned from their parables and clichés is that when an elder can’t offer advice, he or she will say, “A bought lesson is better than a taught one!”

Many elders have good judgment because they have experienced life, made mistakes, and have covered the same road you are now traveling. Which is precisely what brings about good judgment.

Another way to cultivate wisdom and good judgment is to learn from the mistakes and successes of others.

Our elders are full of experiences, and have come through and graduated from “the school of hard knocks.” I have often heard them say, “if I knew then what I know now, how different things would be.”

I encourage anyone who has an elder grandparent, parent, relative, or even a neighbor, who is willing to share a story or life experiences, to take a few minutes with them to ask questions and really listen to their answers.

We owe our elders the respect of our time and attention because we stand to gain the pearls of wisdom, and the golden nuggets of knowledge and jewels of our inheritance!

Here are a few thoughts to help you get connected to an elder person:

Be Respectful – Our elders deserve respect, and they don’t like a lot of foolishness.

Be Truthful – They know what a lie sounds, looks, and smells like.

Be Brief – They won’t let you waste their time.

Be Yourself – They want to know your heart, too.

Be Attentive – They’re not going to repeat or explain things if you are not paying attention.

When you see an older person, don’t think that their time has passed, because they are still here! They have more of the answers to life’s questions than you, so ask. The conversation is more likely to benefit you than it benefits them because they know the real deal.

Finally, if you’re on a road and don’t know where it leads, or if you wonder if you are on the right track, chances are an elder person has been there and done that too.

Trust and believe that if you live long enough you will eventually want to tell someone how it used to be.


“You don’t have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to become great!”


Dr. King had a dream, now we must have vision. The Conscious Call radio program airs every Monday at 11:30 a.m. on WRES-FM 100.7. In a collaboration with the radio program, the Urban News will help keep readers informed about events, programs, news, and the progress of The Conscious Call. For more information, contact the Conscious Call at (828) 989-6999 and visit

The opinions and statements made in this column are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of The Urban News.

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