When people ask me how I got to be so smart, I give credit to my mother, Sheila Kingsberry-Burt. All of my life she has been a very vocal, articulate, intelligent, singer, poet, writer, educator, advocate, preacher, and fabulous lady. No matter where we have lived, no matter the condition of the dwelling on the outside, she kept my home very neat, artful, and filled with books of all kinds. She encouraged, no demanded, that I be smart, educated, and able to mentally and orally defend what I believed and fight for others when they were done wrong. So, I guess it’s inevitable that I’d be an attorney and preacher.
When people call me handsome or say I look good, I tell them I owe that to my mother as well. She had her hand in my physical attributes, naming me Hassan, which means “handsome” or “to make beautiful.” Instinctively, people ask am I Muslim or Arabic because of the origin of my name. When they ask, I know they definitely don’t know Sheila Kingsberry-Burt and my Christian, Baptist, Non-denominational, Charismatic roots. She raised me to love the Lord, Church, and Gospel Music. She raised me under the church, as people say, and in a home filled with The Clark Sister, The Winans, Walter Hawkins, Andre Crouch, Fred Hammond, Hezekiah Walker, James Hall, and all the contemporary Gospel and choir music one could ever know. I smile thinking of so many songs and her beautiful alto voice.
My mother also taught me to love my family and be a good man. Even before I knew what sex was, my mother told me to wait until I got married to have it and have it only with my wife and she meant it. I try to be a good husband and father because she encouraged me to be what I did not see growing up. I always promised myself that I’d have a good family and thankfully, God has allowed me to see this dream come true despite many challenges.
So, I owe a lot to my mother, but I also owe a lot to my beautiful wife. You see, I have a sure enough good woman who gave me four beautiful children (RIP Amira) and takes good care of me and them, sacrificing her own career, because she’s Dr. Francemise Kingsberry, to nurture and care for our kids while they are young. She is the strength of my home. She’s my voice of reason who encourages me to do what God tells me and to live Godly no matter how hurt or offended I am or no matter how tired I get of doing for others with no outward reward.
I know first-hand that “he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” I’ll never forget meeting her in music class at UNC and our eyes trying not to meet, but still looking. I remember her encouraging me to “Sing, Hassan” in various singing groups. So many good times we have shared! I still enjoy our walks and talks about life and where we are and what we want from life. We make plans and go after them together.
I am most thankful to Me-Ce, my wife’s nickname, for just being there for me through the hardest times in life--things I never thought would happen to me with all the promise my education held. Like when my mother had several massive strokes leaving her without the ability to walk or talk as she used to. My wife held me and helped me adjust when I realized things would never be the same. She willingly let me use all the financial resources we had to care for my mom and she stood up for me when people had things to say about what I should have did and will fight for me in a minute!
I can’t help but cry when I type this because I LOVE FRANCEMISE KINGSBERRY LIKE THAT!
She’s been with me through every transition. We went from thinking we adjusted to the situation with my mother to caring for a sick child, then losing a child. I watched Me-Ce hurt, but still say, “It will be alright because God will fight for us!” She persevered to give me children through miscarriages and rough pregnancies and she never objected or said I’m not doing this anymore. That’s my Me-Ce, a woman of character and faith.
Every day, I pray my children are like their mother and grandmother and we strategically named them, as my mom did me. And before I had a family, I promised God that after Him, I’d make them the highest priority and create an environment to make them strong, Godly people who accomplish all their goals and impact this World for Christ. I thank God for the foundation my mother laid and the one my wife is helping me lay.
Happy Mother’s Day to my two special ladies! I love you forever!