“The 20th Century Woman” by Julia Neal Sykes


Mrs. Sykes returns to the studio to recite a poem from her book, Healing Thoughts.  Be sure to check out her story here.

The 20th Century Woman

The 20th Century woman…
All sizes, races, colors and creeds…
a new breed…
An extension of women of old
who have rocked the cradle of civilization,
Carrying out old traditions--improving
and adding on to them
With dauntless courage.

The 20th Century woman…
Emerging on the forefront of today's society
Finding her rightful place in the world's stage,
Playing her special role…
In shaping and molding
The civilization up tomorrow!
She has come a long way…
From the drudgery of mere household chores
and rearing the family
To all facets of life in her community…
the nation and the world!

The 20th Century woman…
Making strides…Right beside
Her mail counterparts
In politics, government, business, industry,
Education, medicine, religion, technology
She is blazing new trails
Never attempted before
Opening every possible door.
Wherever man is...so is she!
That's the way it should be!

The 20th Century woman
Is made of the right stuff
Just tough enough
To fight for her rightful place
When it is denied.
She is God's creation
Man's helpmate...his equal
Created to walk by his side;
Not behind, and not being denied
The right to fulfill her potential.

The 20th Century woman
Is brave and courageous
Her enthusiasm is contagious
Spreading among others
Giving them desires to move on
Her willpower and determination are endless.
She turns the word "no" around to "on"...
Meaning on to greater goals
And higher heights--with all her might!
She is intense--complex.
No one can second guess her intentions…
Not to mention
The sudden outburst a brilliant ideas
Flowing through her keen mind,
Seeking, searching, in her efforts to find
Solutions to improve life for all humankind.

The 20th Century woman
Is willing to listen to men
But demand the right to be heard
And get her two cents' worth in.
This right she will defend!
The 20 Century woman
Likes to be her own person,
But will stand by her man
When the storms of life tear him apart,
Because she has a heart
Bigger than life itself;
Holding so much love, compassion,
Forgiveness, sharing, and caring for everyone else
She is strong, yet tender and loving,
Promotes peace and justice without pushing and shoving
She is brave enough to go out on her own
And make a home
For her children,
Working, struggling, and praying
For their success.
For them, she wants the best!

The 20th Century woman
Plays many different roles
All wrapped up in one body and soul…
Mother, housewife, nurse, business woman,
Counselor, teacher, religious advisor
And on it goes--whatever person the occasion fits
She is it!
She is a hubcap of the family unit,
Without the family her the family would disintegrate!

The 20th Century woman
Has staying power.
She is battered sometimes, but not beaten,
Bent, but not broken,
May give out, but never gives up.
She is much like a teakettle
Although she may be up to her neck in hot water
She can still sing
Whatever the consequences may bring!
She may be criticized
Often ostracized
And sometimes despised
Because of her views and opinions,
But she ignores negative predictions
And holds onto her convictions.

The 20th Century woman
Has praying power.
She is in touch with her Creator every hour,
Leans on Him for guidance,
Has the faith to believe in Him--and herself
When hope is dim.
She does not reach decisions
Through pressure, but through prayer.
Has the patience tow air and not despair
Keeps her hopes high,
As she looks toward the sky,
knowing God is still there.
When she comes to the end of her top
She ties a knot and hangs on with hope;
Or lets go--and lets God!

The 20th Century woman
Often deserted and cast aside by man
Sheds tears many times,
But she clears her mind,
She gets her act together,
Braves the story weather
And moves on --searching
For a better life;
Rising above all the strife!

The 20th Century woman
Moving into the 21st Century
Ready to pass the torch on
To her descendants
With her heart filled with a song.
Generations to come
Will know that she was here,
And left a legacy
For them to live by and hold dear.

The 20th Century woman
Will leave her mark upon the pages of history behind
And her footprints in the sands of time!

Julia Neal Sykes

Julia Neal Sykes

Julia Neal Sykes was born on October 15, 1923 on a tenant farm in southern Mecklenburg County near the Buster Boyd Bridge. Her childhood dream was to become a teacher and she overcame financial and circumstantial hardships to achieve that goal. She was married to the late R.B. Sykes for over 30 years. After the passing of her husband, she began to write and subsequently authored four books, including a poetic and historical volume. She is the mother of one son, Dr. James Neal. She is the grandmother of 2 and the great grandmother of 1. She is retired from 33 years as a public school teacher in the eastern part of North Carolina. Today, she continues to teach sunday school at her church, St. Stephens AME Zion in Gastonia, North Carolina.

Two of her books are available on Amazon:

Healing Thoughts, a book of poems highlighting her deeply held faith and life journey

Footprints on the Rough Side of the Mountain, a history of African Americans in Belmont, NC