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Living Legacies: The Christina Lewis Impact

Christina Lewis Halpern

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

– Benjamin Franklin

 

Have you ever wondered to yourself how you want to be remembered? If you think it’s by your enormous wealth, don’t forget that all that will either be distributed or taken at your demise and as time passes so will your name fade away slowly like a withering flower. Names bear with them the power of identity in a vast world like ours, yet generation after generation, certain names keep living through time because of the legacies they left behind. Names are not just meant for the tombstones or for the book of history alone, they are meant to be imprinted in the hearts of those whose lives we impacted in a positive way. People who will remember us for the selfless services we rendered, those we caused to smile and they will share the stories of our impacts and legacies. The likes of Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Aristotle, Shakespeare amongst others will remain relevant in every generation for their impacts across different human endeavours.

Another name to be reckoned with is that of Reginald F. Lewis, the first black American to own a billion dollar company in a time when that seemed impossible for people of colour. He was the chairman and Chief Executive of TLC Beatrice International Holding – a New York based international distributor of food, groceries and beverages.  He is a man who rose out of obscurity into the limelight, defying all odds. In honour of his life of impact, two important buildings were named after him – Baltimore’s Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture as well as Harvard’s Lewis International Law Center.

With the aim and motivation of living, not just up to, but beyond the legacy of her father, Christina Lewis Halpern, Reginald’s second daughter, started an initiative to accommodate and prepare coloured children for a career in technology. Christina, a graduate cum laude of Harvard University, an activist, a philanthropist, a social entrepreneur, an award winning journalist, author of one of Amazon.com’s bestselling kindle, ‘Lonely at the Top’ and the founder and Executive Director of All Star Code, a nonprofit educational organization . The All Star Code is a six-week initiative for motivated black and Latino young men to prepare and help them discover innovative career opportunities through a computer science based curriculum. This program provides exposure to the tech industry through summer coding and the organization’s target is exposing over 100,000 boys to computer science by 2020 through its expansion program.

This initiative is borne out of her own experience with discrimination as a fulatto – a child with a black American father and a Filipino mother – and due to the understanding that technology is the next best thing in our world. She embarked on a tech inclusion effort to prepare those children who seemed undeserving because of their colour for a career in the innovative economy of technology.

Christina’s numerous accolades and achievements include being honoured by the White House as a 2014 Champion of Change for STEM Access. She was also listed in Jet Magazine’s Top 40 under 40 and The Root’s 17 Women in STEM You Should Know. She has spoken at NY Ideas, Harvard Law School, The Atlantic Forum in Education, J.P. Morgan, the Wealth and Giving Forum, among other places. She is also chair of the Finance and Investment Committee of the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation and has led million-dollar fundraising campaigns for her alma mater, Harvard College.

Apart from accolades received by Christina, one of the successes of the organization is ‘The Young Hackers’ group which aims at breaking barriers through hackathons operated by former All Star students. They did a 12-hour collaborative problem solving event with more than 20 hacks and over 100 people in attendance.

We are not just meant to live life like a vapour that fades away, life is meant to be lived living up to the legacy that was left behind for us and leaving a legacy that is worthy of following for our children and for future generations.

 

Image from AllStarCode.

Khemmie Ray
A passionate writer whose world revolves around arts and aesthetics.

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