As the eyes of America watched the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol July 10, I feel thankful for the Black church and the principled role that it played in bringing a community together at a time that could have led to even greater strife and turmoil.
The more I witness the vast gap between how some folks live in this country, the more I am grateful that I grew up in North Philadelphia with a strong father, mother and family.
In 1969, at the age of 41, Maya Angelou, who died on May 28 at age 86 in Winston-Salem, N.C., published I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was a memoir of her childhood and adolescent odyssey from Arkansas to California, during which she survived a cascade of traumatic events, including being raped by her mother's boyfriend at age seven and overcoming prejudice to become, at age 16, San Francisco's first black streetcar conductor.
As the Senate Watergate Committee was turning up the heat on President Richard M. Nixon and his closest associates in 1973, chairman Sam Ervin, a North Carolina Democrat, became something of a national folk hero. At his death in 1985, one newspaper remembered him as "a latter-day Diogenes bent on finding the truth in an era of Watergate lies."
This quote, I'm sure, is familiar to all of you. If not, then I hope you will find some meaning in this piece. It was spoken graciously and passionately by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963, in Washington, DC. This week, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King. Several months ago, Sean and I received an award, the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Service Award, which deeply humbled us. We have received numerous awards in the last few years, yet this one stood apart from the others. It was presented by The Rainbow Push Coalition. We were awed to be the recipients of a recognition that we knew was not given to us without great consideration. Sean and I joked, "Do you think they know we are white?" This Freedom Award represented all that Dr. King embodied to us. It allowed us to believe that maybe, just maybe, that we are making progress. It was not just another piece of hardware that we would line up on the shelf in the study. It seemed to represent a hopeful future.
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