By Jared D. Childress | OBSERVER Staff Writer
Cynthia “Cynt” Marshall is a woman of firsts.
One of the first Black cheerleaders at UC Berkeley. The first Black female chair of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. One of the first Black female officers at AT&T. And, perhaps most famously, as the head of the Dallas Mavericks, the NBA’s first Black female CEO.
But she’s not the first person to grow up in the Richmond projects. She’s not the first person to get colon cancer. And she’s not the first person to grieve the loss of a child.
The cancer survivor is the first featured guest at the Oak Park Speaker Series, which returns to the Guild Theater in Oak Park at 6 p.m. Oct. 15. She will discuss her new memoir, “You’ve Been Chosen: Thriving Through the Unexpected,” during the fireside chat moderated by St. Hope founder and former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. A book signing follows.
The Bay Area native said the event will “feel like a family reunion.” Her siblings and mother, Carolyn, will be there.
“I think it’ll feel like home,” Marshall, 62, told The OBSERVER. Attendees “can expect to cry a little bit because we’ll talk about family. … It was not an easy journey.”
It will be the first time she speaks about the book in front of her mother, the God-fearing woman who told her the cancer diagnosis was “for His glory.”
“Expect to see me give my mother her flowers while she’s alive … she is a strong woman,” Marshall said. She noted she needs to make sure her mom has her hearing aid because “that sister needs her hearing aid,” she joked.
Attendees also can expect to laugh and “just feel good,” Marshall said. A fitting statement for a woman of deep faith and positivity who emailed her staff proclaiming she would “definitely beat” cancer and have an “awesome testimony,” just days after her December 2010 diagnosis.
Marshall was right. Her book sold more than 2,000 copies in its first week, she said. She continues to use her “voice of power” as a regular speaker at cancer-related events.
She’ll spend about an hour Saturday signing books – one of her favorite activities. But she doesn’t just scribble an autograph. She writes personal inscriptions for each person.
“I found out that I like to write notes to people,” Marshall said. “I just can’t sign it. I have to say something to the people.”
Tickets are available at Underground Books in Oak Park or online through Eventbrite. General admission tickets are $20 and VIP $60. VIP ticket holders will join Marshall for a post-event reception at Fixins Soul Kitchen.