Here's one to get started.
Sunday, November 13, 2016 -- Memphis, Tennessee
Today I met a young African American man I will call Sam. Sam works two jobs to care for his wife and two children. For of those jobs, he works at a hotel as a van driver, bellman, and whatever else the guests need him to do. As he wheeled a luggage cart filled with my bags and boxes, he asked me why I was in town. When I told him I was here as part of the staff of the Living Legacy Pilgrimage to visit civil rights sites in Memphis and in Mississippi and Alabama, he looked directly at me and after a short pause, he said, "Nobody who comes here ever asks me to take them to the civil rights museum. They want to go to Graceland, or maybe to Beale Street, but they never ask to go to the civil rights museum."
He shook his head as if he'd just learned that I'd arrived from another planet, then reached over to me, extended his arms, and hugged me. He never said, "white people never ask me." He just said, "people." But the unspoken connotation was clear.
He told me that he had met another guy from our group. “That guy,” he said, “had been in Selma.”
“Yes,” I said, “that was Rev. Jim Hobart.” He even spent time in jail.
He then told me that his mother, who died when he was only 22 years old, saw to it that he went to Catholic school. “That taught me,” he said,” to get along with lots of different kinds of people. And it allowed me to get into college. My mother taught me not to have children until I was married and until I could care for them. I have two children now and I’m so grateful to her for telling me to wait.”
“One stupid mistake,” he said, “and I could have ended up like lots of the people I grew up with. I was able to stay out of trouble. One stupid mistake. I miss my mom so much.”
I told Sam what an excellent role model he is to his children and to other young people. I told him more about the Pilgrimage and encouraged him to look it up online. I also told him to remember that they are good white people out there who are trying to make a difference. He said, “I know that,” and he thanked me again with second hug.
-- by Annette Marquis