Celebrating Black Voices for Black History Month

February 14, 20242 min. Read

power of LOVE

The Power of Love and Willis Drake’s Ultimate Love Letter to His Late Wife

To be loved is to be changed, and changed is exactly how Willis Drake, 83, found himself after the death of his beloved wife, Mary Ann Byas-Drake. Fueled by grief, Drake spent nearly two years with pen in hand, recounting the cherished memories of a life well lived together after 55 wonderful years of marriage. Initially, he harbored no ambitions of becoming an author or achieving success in that realm. However, as his narrative resonates with countless hearts, Mary’s enduring legacy continues to ignite inspiration.

Drake’s book, Mary Ann Byas-Drake Destined and Determined to be a Nurse sheds light on Mary’s path as she navigates her entry into the medical profession. Mary confronted numerous challenges, including being married and expecting a child while enrolled in the Homer G. Phillips nursing program that disallowed both circumstances. Recognizing her potential, Mary’s superiors made a historical exception, permitting her to complete the program. 

In another chapter of his life, Drake reflects on purchasing a home in a predominantly white neighborhood during the late 60s. Initial concerns from neighbors about a black family residing in the area eventually faded away as they got to know him. Unforeseen friendships blossomed, marked by shared social gatherings, dinners, and vacations, illustrating the transformative power of genuine connections beyond preconceptions.

Drake eloquently explains the power of love and the significance of truly understanding someone beyond preconceptions. “It’s important for people to learn about each other,” he emphasizes. “That is how we develop relationships beyond stereotypes.”

When asked about the impact of his identity on his writing journey, Drake simply says “My inner self dictates my actions.” Offering perspective on the influence of his upbringing by his parents and delving into “what it means to be a man,” he emphasizes values that are important to him like “providing for my family” and “leading my home.”

Discussing the significance of black voices in literature and beyond, Drake affirms, “African American voices are essential. Every voice should be heard.” Derived from the rich significance of Black History Month, a central theme we aim to honor at Palmetto Publishing is that of love. In the spirit of Mary and Willis’s love for life and community, we strive to embrace and extend this message to those within our vicinity, fostering inclusivity and amplifying diverse voices in all aspects of life.

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