Updated: Jan 28
Growing up as a young black kid in the late 70's I was only about 5yrs old when I would catch the city bus with my grandma Eunice. We would ride from the Creighton Court housing projects on the east end of Richmond to go shopping downtown at stores like Woolworths, Thalhimers, and a few others which have since gone out of business.
It was a beautiful city back then...,
On our way downtown, we would travel through the old Churchill area, where the houses were big and beautiful, and some of the streets were covered in cobblestone. It made for a bumpy ride, but it had an awesome Victorian and Colonial feel. I always loved the architecture of the old colonial-era homes. I loved the bricks and stones and all of that. I think it led to me later becoming a Mason's Apprentice and even later than that a Master Builder, Life Coach, Teacher, and Speaker with a fondness for creating and developing things from my imagination - even people. It's amazing how life happens...,
I still remember passing by some of the old historic churches like St. John's on East Broad Street, where Patrick Henry, the American revolutionary and freedom fighter, once said, "give me liberty or give me death." That quote has stuck with me for over 40yrs. But it's sad to see, in recent times, that white mobs and black protesters would like to see statues like his and others tore down and destroyed.
It's sad, I remember, occasionally my grandmother and I would escape even further and travel down the beautiful and historic Monument Avenue, on our way to the Westend of Richmond. It was a beautiful sight; big luxurious homes, ginormous-statues of men on horses, and sidewalks and running paths covered in the shade of huge-southern trees. It was here that I first discovered people running outside for exercise while pushing strollers and listening to headphones. It was amazing - so I thought because that was something you just didn't do on the Eastend or in our part of town. But it inspired me to be free and escape to a place where I could do and enjoy the same. It was so inspiring. I used to love these journeys, and I still do. I make it a point to ride down that street every time I visit home.
I even visited during the recent protest and riots to see if the horror stories were true. They were, and many of my old friends and family even participated or celebrated while I shed a tear and prayed to GOD for their better future, for perhaps now they might feel free. Maybe now they can escape their emotional slavery...,
I doubt it. But as I sit here in the park overlooking the waters of Old Town Alexandria, VA, typing away with one finger on my cell phone, I'm saddened to hear that so many people felt oppressed by the same statues that inspired me and made me feel free, knowing that great men served and sacrificed so that my grandparents and I, and our children could live and be free.
I'm even more saddened to learn that many of the protesters and rioters, 98-percent by some reports, don't even know why the statues were erected. They don't know who they are, what they stood for, why they were respected, or what they did. And they have no idea how those statues inspired black kids to rise and be all that they could be to ensure you and I will always remain free.
Sometimes visible symbols of a negative history do more to inspire and motivate than they do to oppress, especially when you learn the truth from a positive perspective.