Home People Profile Bham People Author Lisa Craig Taylor Embraced Her Pain to Show Others Their Purpose

Author Lisa Craig Taylor Embraced Her Pain to Show Others Their Purpose

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Lisa Craig Taylor’s “My Voice is Dope,” which was published on February 29 at www.mahogany.com links Taylor with an esteemed group of other Black, female writers as part of the Hallmark Mahogany Published Writers. (Amarr Croskey, For The Birmingham Times)

By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson | For The Birmingham Times

Last year, Lisa Craig Taylor found that, even with all her accomplishments, she was engulfed in a sea of depression.

She had learned to “embrace that there’s purpose in your pain” when her first husband was shot and killed during daylight hours in Ensley in 2003, in a case that still has not been solved.

Taylor said she looked at her three children at the time and it motivated her to keep pushing, even when she wanted to give up.

Then, last year, after watching an encouraging video on social media, she found the courage and grit to put pen to paper. She wrote about her journey of overcoming fear of speaking up for herself, and shared her battle with depression.

The result is “My Voice is Dope,” which was published on February 29 at www.mahogany.com linking Taylor with an esteemed group of other Black, female writers as part of the Hallmark Mahogany Published Writers.

Taylor a fan of hip hop remembered that the word “dope” was used to declare that the music was praiseworthy, cool and great. She tapped into memories that brought her joy and hip hop was a source of joy for her, Taylor said. That’s how she wants her work to be remembered and that’s how the title came about for her published written work.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, she said.

“I consider it an honor; it’s a dream come true. When I browsed the website, I wanted to be among this caliber of authors. So, for it happen, it helps me to believe anything is possible. It boosted my faith.”

With each word in “My Voice is Dope,” and with each encouraging inspirational video she watched (Taylor loves TED Talks) to gain her confidence back, she could feel purpose rise within her, said Taylor, 49.

Taylor is a technology data manager and has been in the field for more than 20 years. She actually manages a team of technology advisers for mobile device support and the devices include tablets and computers.

“Even though I work in the technology field, it’s my heart’s desire to truly create a movement – a community – for people to understand that there is purpose in your pain for people to reveal the pieces of them that help them identify as well as embrace who they are,” she said. “So, with ‘My Voice is Dope,’ I truly desire for this to be a movement.”

How It All Began

Taylor was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and moved to Birmingham in 1987 while in the seventh grade and grew up in the West End community, graduating from West End High School.

Her father lived in New York but being from Birmingham originally, Taylor said he wanted her to grow up in a slower-paced environment in Alabama with his family the Magic City in particular.

While at West End High School, Taylor excelled in basketball, playing the position of forward. But she recognized the gift years earlier at Arrington Middle School near West End in Birmingham. Because of my height, basketball piqued my interest. I’ve always been the tallest one in my class.”

Taylor, who stands six feet tall, also played volleyball in middle and high school, but basketball prevailed. She attended Lawson State Community College on a basketball scholarship.

“I gave birth to my first child – my son at 17 while in high school. I received multiple scholarship offers to play basketball, but I didn’t desire to go to a major university that would have required me, as a freshman, to live away from my son in a dorm. So that’s why I accepted the scholarship offer to play at Lawson State, in order to care for my son,” said Taylor.

When Pain Hits Home

Overcoming challenges is nothing new for the published author. She’s now married to her husband Dexter (married in 2021), but an unexpected event ended her first marriage in 2003.

“My first husband was the victim of a violent crime in Birmingham, and that was the beginning of me learning to embrace that there’s purpose in your pain,” she said.

Warren Sims was shot and killed during daylight hours in Ensley in 2003. The case currently is in the cold case unit with the Birmingham Police Department,” she said.

Taylor said as she looked at her young children’s faces at the time – two daughters and one son – it motivated her to keep pushing, even when she wanted to give up after the tragic death of her husband.

“I didn’t want them to suffer based off what I was going through, so it’s almost like you have to deny how you feel and what you’re feeling to push forward for these other people. But it becomes rewarding to see the benefits of your labor,” said Taylor.

Seeing Her Reward

Taylor now has three grandchildren.

Her youngest daughter, Jemaiya Lee, 27, graduated from Spain Park High School and Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) in Montgomery in 2020 with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, where she also played basketball (a forward and a guard). Lee has two daughters.

Taylor’s second daughter, Darnesha Benson, 29, graduated from Oak Mountain High School and University of Alabama in 2021 with a degree in Public Relations. She also has a daughter.

Taylor’s three granddaughters are Carsyn, 5; Camryn, 3; and Jordyn, who’s also 3.

Darnell Craig is Taylor’s son, her oldest child at age 33. He was born and raised in Birmingham, graduating from Hoover High; now lives in Detroit and is a licensed minister.

While Taylor attended college, but did not graduate, she said “I’m very proud to see my children obtain things I did not achieve. Basically, they’ve broken generational curses.”

And that’s not all that’s rewarding.

“With my adult children, now seeing their accomplishments and with my grandchildren … I can remember the days that I did want to give up; the times where I didn’t feel like I would make it.”

She wants people to understand that pain, or a painful life experience, is simply a vehicle that can push them forward, she said.

“You cannot stay there (in a painful place); you cannot stop there; you cannot give up.  Anytime you start feeling those feelings, it’s a must to push forward and that’s my gifting. My gift is motivation. My gift is to help people. No matter where you are, what you’re facing, or what you’re dealing with, I want to help you push forward,” said Taylor.

For more on Taylor at Mahogany.com visit My Voice is Dope