Forty-three days, eight states, 13 cities, an estimated 4,000 miles, 14 repositories, five churches, three dozen cemeteries, and eight speaking engagements! Sounds like a lot, right? It was amazing and yet none of this holds a candle to the people I met and the stories they had to tell.
In the current world of chaos and intrigue on a global scale, the stories on the surface may have seemed inconsequential. But most of us live here at home from day to day. We are not jet-setters; we do not engage in macro politics and economics. Our worlds are tiny interlocking circles of family, friends and the occasional external influence. And they are invaluable.
It was the depth and beauty of their lives and the hunger for validation that I was invited to share. I will be forever grateful to have been welcomed, embraced and enlightened.
Once again, please indulge me as I acknowledge the following supporters whose generosity enabled this journey: the Orange County African-American Historical Society, the Laughlin-Beers Foundation, The Lambert Family, Flavor on Main, Updike Industries, Bingham and Taylor, Nancy and Michael Baudhuin Foundation and Mini of Alexandria.
The transition from bed-surfing sometimes on a nightly basis to the comfort of my own sleeping arrangements, often crowded by one cat and one dog and, if I am fortunate, the occasional grandchild, is recent and not yet complete. But there is little time to catch one’s breath.
While away, I was called upon for four research inquiries, three speaking opportunities, added to the two unfinished writing projects. All were gracious in delaying my involvement until I returned in March. Now I am home, it is well into March and a few more projects have been added to the list. Thank heavens they are not due in March. In fact, one will not come to fruition until 2019. I would not have it any other way, but if there are those reading this who have a few hours a week and would like to join the effort, please contact me as soon as possible.
Finding stories and documenting the facts is simply not the goal. No, the ultimate goal is to share the stories and the fact finding in a manner that is enlightening and instructional. To that end, you can expect a more comprehensive report on the journey south.
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Often it has been difficult to witness and accept the current unacceptable levels of poverty. It has been even more challenging to bear testimony to the monuments of oppression, denial and discrimination that did not end with the 13th Amendment nor the Civil Rights Acts. There exists a legacy that only the healing elements of truth can eradicate. One can read what little has been written but only a few literary works have truly scratched the surface.
I will do my part to change that. If that sounds ambitious, pretentious, or big-headed, you have my apology but not a reversal of commitment.
My unearned white privilege should be good for more than sustaining my own comfortable life and here is hoping that I am successful in some small way.