“Leave a legacy.”
It’s one of Cherie Buckner-Webb’s guiding principles that has motivated her through career and life changes. It’s what gets her excited about the work she does and how she’s leaving a mark for the next generation.
Cherie joined us on episode 10 of the Unlocking the Club podcast to discuss what legacy means and why it matters so much to her life and work.
Cherie was the first black person to serve in the Idaho House of Representatives, where she was elected in 2010 and re-elected multiple times until 2018.
As “the first,” Cherie had a unique role and voice, always fighting for inclusion for all.
Today, Cherie is the founder and principal of Sojourner Coaching, where she works as a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion). She’s also sat on numerous boards and worked in various community organizations.
And, through it all, Cherie’s driven to leave a legacy for those who come next.
Learn Your Legacy
Knowing your legacy is essential to shaping you as a person.
Because your legacy is your strength. Your legacy is your story. And your legacy is your motivation.
Cherie Buckner-Webb comes from a family of groundbreakers. Her mom’s side, in particular, always encouraged her to know herself and hold pride in who she is.
And so, it’s part of Cherie’s legacy to be a groundbreaker herself. It’s a way to honor her past while encouraging and fighting for future generations. From her time in office to her work in the DEI space, she is a groundbreaking force for change and growth.
Learning your legacy requires intentionality.
Our school systems don’t teach all histories equally. There is no opportunity for children of any background to learn the stories and legacies of black communities, other people of color, or marginalized groups.
So, to learn your legacy, follow Cherie’s advice:
- Learn your history through books, podcasts, movies, or other mediums.
- Listen to the stories of your family and friends and, if they don’t offer it willingly, be bold and ask.
- Dive into your family’s DNA history.
- Share your own story with your peers or younger folks, creating a virtuous circle of sharing and learning from one another.
And, from your legacy, draw strength. Allow it to speak to your identity and empower you to grow, learn, and move forward.
It’s because of her legacy-rooted identity that Cherie can’t stand colleagues who “don’t see her as black.” She is black. And proud of it. It’s her identity, built on the legacy of those before her, and will carry through to those after her.
Holding Both Trauma and Resiliency
In our discussion about the importance of learning your legacy is the idea that our ancestors held both trauma and resiliency.
They went through unspeakable challenges but addressed them with profound resiliency and strength.
Many black women are familiar with walking this line. We deal with the trauma, the challenges, and the microaggressions every day. But we walk through it with our heads held high.
Part of this is because, as Cherie put it, we’re encouraged from a young age to “not let them see you sweat.” Cherie remembers keeping it in and holding back her emotions until she was in a safe place with her family to let it out.
And, sometimes, that’s the appropriate thing to do—hold it together for the sake of where you are.
Other times, you need to let it out—express emotion, speak up at injustice, fight the fight.
Cherie reminds us of another way, too—wait. Slow down and listen to what people are truly saying. Understand where they’re coming from, get the context, and then just wait. You will gain clarity on what to do and how to move forward.
Find Your Power, Passion, and Purpose
Another credo Cherie lives by is “power, passion, and purpose.” It’s what she wants in her life and, well, we all do!
But how can you find that? Power and passion come from your lived experiences, learning your legacy, your community, and knowing your identity.
Purpose is applying that to something worthy. It’s using your power and passion to make a difference.
Cherie reflected on the reason she wanted to work in government—she believed in the community and in this generation to do things better. And she wanted to be a catalyst for that change.
To fulfill that purpose, Cherie saw her differences—being the first black person in office in Idaho—as a competitive advantage. If a bunch of people are out door-knocking in the community, who are they going to remember? Her difference made her memorable and impactful in her community.
There was no way Cherie wasn’t going to stand out in her run for office, so she embraced it and used it as a competitive advantage.
She was aware of the public scrutiny as “the first” but didn’t let it get her down. Instead, she’s another part of the trailblazing women of Idaho making their mark on the state and community.
Again, with a strong personal identity and the strength of her legacy, Cherie just focused on doing what she needed to do.
We talked so much more about Cherie’s story and path, including her commitment to being a truth teller, why anyone can run for office, and the impact of DEI.