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Meet Sharon Bennett of The Shoe Fetish Movement, Author and Empowerment Speaker in West of Buckhead

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sharon Bennett.

Sharon, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am the daughter of a civil rights activist who integrated Southwestern Bell/AT&T in the 1960s, an author of four books and an empowerment speaker for women and girls. My speaking and writing spurred from my reading and journaling as a child. It was a way to express my inner thoughts and feelings. Cathartic, if you will.

I transplanted to Atlanta in 1997, but I was born and raised mostly in the historic city of San Antonio, TX. The land of the Spurs basketball team and the famous Alamo. Texas was part of Mexico, as well as Arizona, Utah, parts of New Mexico, California, Nevada, and Wyoming until the War for Independence in 1835. It was part of the more massive war of the United States versus Mexico. Settlers seeking independence from another country’s land that they squatted on is strange to me. So, though Texas had a large Latin American population, racism against people of color existed and was enforced.

Well, a humble 23-year-old discharged army soldier gained employment in 1956 with Southwestern Bell/AT&T as a janitor. Janitorial and mechanics were the only types of positions blacks could get then. Rev. Dr. L.E. Bennett witnessed John F. Kennedy speak on September 12, 1960, about equality for all. He decided that he wanted better for his life and family. It was my father, Rev. Dr. L.E. Bennett, who ran for and became the president of the CWA Colored People’s Union #6131, in January of 1961. He fought the ingrained bigotry and won. He was also a loyal and active member of the NAACP, assisting people to register to vote. That gleaned him a Political Education Award from the then NAACP’s president, Roy Wilkins, who marched with Martin Luther King.

I can only imagine the amount of stress he was under being engaged in the civil rights battle for years. Sometimes that stress was reflected at home. My parents raised us with strict guidelines. Imagine being raised by Christian parents, one who became a pastor and who was a civil rights activist moving up the career ladder amongst whites. But, that type of person was about helping people, so it’s no wonder that I’ve chosen nursing as a career for many years and love empowerment speaking.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There were a lot of ups and downs in my young life. We had to be dressed and done up because you’re a representative of your parents. Household rules, being called Cinderella due to an early curfew, swift discipline if we messed up, frequent relocations that came with his career advancements, having to prove yourself at school, and make new friends. It was hard and, at times, depressing. That can affect a child’s self-esteem and self-image. I wish we were able to sit and talk through things more versus just getting orders to obey. However, they were good caring parents that did everything that they knew how to do for us. I didn’t appreciate it growing up, but I do now. And I owe it to L.E. Bennett’s legacy to tell his story. My research revealed incredible sacrifices and things that he did to fight the system, which is why I am finishing his biography. I’m not positive about the name of the book; however, a San Antonio city councilwoman called him, “The Hidden Jewel of the South.”

Tell us about your work – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Well, in my heart of passions, I’m a writer and empowerment speaker. My current object of love is the biography of my father and all the influential people that he communicated with and the causes that he championed for civil rights. There were a lot of highs and lows in his story and sadness. But all of my juicy journaling led to writing novels about women, their emotional turmoil, and relationships, inclusive of thoughts of murder due to the harm done to them. The first two book titles were: Shoe Fetish 1-A Woman’s Love for her Shoes and her Men and Shoe Fetish 2-Grown into High Heels. It tracks the life of three young friends growing up in San Antonio, TX, and learning about relationships on their own. High Heels, Relationships, Sex, and Murder. In 2012, I wanted to do more to help empower others, so I searched out organizations with young teens and women that I could speak. My first engagement was at Seton Home for Girls. These young ladies couldn’t complete standard high school due to pregnancies or problems at home. They loved it and had to model their favorite pair of shoes for prizes that were donated by Vans.com. Next was a business women’s organization called Society of Empowered Women (SEW), and so on. Ladies were making positive comments, and that’s how The Shoe Fetish Movement evolved.

Last year I wrote a self-help book entitled: Cracks in Your Mirror. The cracks represent the negatives and trauma that we see in ourselves and how important it is to acknowledge it and get it resolved. I know something about being married and believing that a person loves you but enduring emotional, verbal, and physical abuse by someone you called your king. I know what it’s like to be impregnated by a date rape and to be haunted by the abortion; therefore, if sharing my stories can empower someone to understand that being themselves is beautiful and enough, and guide them to more help, that’s beneficial to both parties.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Over the years, I have learned to appreciate past events, traumas, and be thankful for what my parents or others bestowed on my life. Your past is what makes you the person that you are. We all wonder “what if” from time to time. That’s natural. So, the answer is no. I wouldn’t make changes other than to maybe take my time and absorb more of what my parents taught. But I love who and where I am in life. I’m very in love with my family, my mother, my children and grandchildren. They’re smart, responsible, kind, loving and dedicated. My children are raising wonderful, well-mannered grandchildren. Also, my hair has began to gray and I’ve accepted that with joy.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
SNAP News of San Antonio, TX for the article on L.E. Bennett. Crockett Designs (816) 305-5441, for the individual portrait shots. Other pics are personal photos taken by Sharon Bennett.

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