No Apologies
No Apologies
Powerful Lessons in Life, Love & Politics
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Alisha Thomas Morgan made headlines in 2005 when she challenged the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives in a heated debate over voting rights - an unprecedented rebuke of the status quo turning the political landscape on its head. As some legislators shunned her, others demanded a public apology and some called for her expulsion, Morgan stood firm on her convictions, making no apologies for standing up for what was right.

Emerging victorious from this and similar political and personal challenges, Morgan has built a successful career and life. She continues to make no apologies and shares the lessons she has learned along her journey of trial and triumph in “No Apologies: Lessons in Life, Love & Politics”.

Whether you're looking for practical and honest advice to help you navigate your personal or professional trajectory, a dynamic tool to help focus your life, an inside look at politics, or some inspiration to get involved in your community, “No Apologies” gives you an unfiltered look into Morgan's life experiences teaching us lessons that transcend life, love, and politics.

Finally, his speech was over and it was my turn. I was filled with so much emotion from the night before. I felt sad, frustrated, angry, powerless, and even oppressed. My soul was stirring, and I needed to speak and say what was on my heart. I needed to talk about the elephant in the room from the night before that I refused to allow to be ignored or brushed to the side. I knew this was one of the times I had to speak truth to power. That is, I had to say what needed to be said whether other people had the guts to say it or not. Speaking truth to power in this instance was recalling what had happened the night before and addressing the questions from my colleagues about why I “get so emotional” when I and others go to the well to speak on voting. I needed to say those things to those who were in power, in this case the Republicans, and inform them that I was not going to sit idly by and allow this effort to turn back the clock on voting rights and say or do nothing. This was one of those moments where you may not be able to do anything but you certainly have your voice, and it was vital that those in power heard it. While other legislators never acknowledged what happened the night before, my soul wasn't going to rest unless I did. I took to the well (the podium in the chamber where legislators make our speeches) and recalled for the chamber what had happened the night before. I reminded the audience that my people had come in chains and we weren't going back. I recalled the moment I met Rosa Parks. I recalled how I felt when I watched the Eyes on the Prize videos as a high school student and was inspired to speak my own truth to power. I talked about the many shoulders on which I stand, from Fannie Lou Hamer to Shirley Chisholm and many others. I called the names of our ancestors and even reminded them about Bishop Henry McNeal Turner, who was expelled from the legislature, along with thirty-two other African Americans, because of the color of their skin.

By that time, I am sure I was over two minutes and thirty seconds, except, time was no longer a factor for me. Call it lost in the moment, call it defying authority. Call it putting my degree in drama to use. Call it what you want, but I was experiencing a moment with the ancestors, and time was not my concern. I do remember hearing the Speaker's gavel get louder and louder. I remember the room getting quiet and tense. People wondered what would happen next: What is this new Speaker going to do to control his chamber? I remember two guys walking up to each side of me, perhaps to remove me. The gavel got louder and louder. “Rep. Morgan, your time has expired.” There was nothing that could be done, because this was the moment. I hadn't planned it, didn't know it would happen, but this was the moment that decorum and the status quo needed to be challenged. This was the moment that no gavel, house rules, or anything else could keep me from speaking out. As the gavel got louder and louder and the Speaker's face turned a tomato shade of red, I finished my morning order by singing “Aint Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.” I sang, “I'm gonna keep on walkin', keep on talkin', marchin' up to freedom land!” And then, I took my seat.

There was applause from the gallery. The Speaker made a comment about other members being civilized in the chamber. It was all he could do to recover from his public embarrassment. It was a whirlwind after that. There were rumors that the leadership was looking for ways to expel me from the legislature. At first, that sounded scary, until I realized I would be in great company. The last person who was expelled from the Georgia legislature was my NAACP colleague, Julian Bond, for his stance against the Vietnam War. Then of course there were the thirty-three African Americans who were expelled because of the color of their skin. The truth is, fear was never a factor. I had never felt so free and connected to something bigger than myself. That moment wasn't about my passionate speech. It was about standing up and not standing down. That moment was about challenging the status quo and reminding folk that we are not appointed to places to take up space, nor to wait for someone else to speak up. That moment became one of the most defining moments in my life…

Lessons I Learned Along the Way

1. Never apologize for standing up for what you believe in. It's so easy to sit back and watch instead of speak up when you see wrong. We have good reason to. Often the people who are courageous enough to speak up are faced with great opposition and consequences. If you think about any change that's been made in the world, it's because someone did speak up. He or she understood that the benefits of speaking up outweighed the consequences that come with it. Stand up for what you believe. We are called to speak for those who have no voice. When we are afraid to stand, we silence our voice and the voices of others. If you don't speak, then who will? Be bold, stand up, and make no apologies.

2. Consider the source. So often we get caught up in what people say, what they think we should be doing, how someone would feel if we took a certain action. Before you decide that you will take the advice, listen to the haters, or give any credence to what is being said, always consider the source. …

A rising star on the national political scene, Alisha Thomas Morgan made history in 2002 as the first African American elected to serve in the Georgia House of Representatives from Cobb County. First elected at age 23, she is now serving in her fourth term. Morgan is a sought after speaker and trainer whose story of overcoming obstacles inspires audiences of all ages. Her powerful message has reached audiences including Harvard University, Yale University and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. She has received numerous awards including the "Most Honorable Elected Official” award from the National Action Network and the "Unsung Heroine" award by the Anti-Defamation League. She has been featured in Ebony, Essence and Marie Claire magazines as well as the New York Times. A graduate of Spelman College earning a B.A. in both Sociology and Drama, she is married to David L. Morgan and they have a daughter Lailah and son Rashaan.


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