As I waited in the darkness for the sun to rise on my last day here in Grafton, West Virginia, I read a Facebook post by a friend, Annett Davis. She and her family are some of the best people I know. They are incredible humans who are raising truly exceptional children. So, her post hit me particularly hard.
Speaking of her son, who was away at a camp, she said, “Every time he goes somewhere my husband tells him to be smart, and be safe. We remind him to be a leader. And we also have to remind him that he is a black male and will be treated differently so beware.” My heart hurts knowing that this beautiful soul, this special child that is her son, must be constantly reminded of this sad truth.
It made me wonder how different my confrontation with the prison official as I watched the sunrise over the Tygart Valley a few days ago might have been if I were a black man in the same situation. How would he have responded to my smug comments? Would he have been so forgiving? It pains me to say this, but I’m certain the conversation would have gone differently.
These were my thoughts as I looked out over the graves of men and women who fought to protect the freedoms we so often take for granted. And as the sun rose over this solemn ground, I hoped that one day we, as a nation, would finally fully embrace the words that gave our country it’s birth: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
We still have so far to go.
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