We walked out of the house, off the porch, and then made a wide circle towards the vehicle instead of walking directly to the truck. Instead of guiding him I let him find his way. It has to be depressing to loose your vision. He's facing the same thing his father faced.......Blindness. He shared with me a few days prior to Christmas how I'm fulfilling the same role he fulfilled for his father..... He became his father's eyes, I'm doing the same.....Reluctantly. I try as much as possible to allow Pops to accomplish anything he can with out treating him as a crippled man. As I fully want to guide him to the car as a normal person would move, he needs to be capable. He wants to be capable. He can get so cranky when he's helped to do things he can do for himself.
En route to the church Pops mentioned a friend of the family, Sarah Kinard, who is writing her thesis about her father and my Pops' Omega Psi Phi chapter brother John Kinard. John helped Pops cross into our Omega fold in 1958. Influenced by a man in his neighborhood Pops was originally interested in the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity but as one of the Alphas on campus showed an interest in Pops in a different way (he attempted to force a sexual advance upon my father. My father beat that Alpha up) Pops decided against Alpha Phi Alpha. Dad said "I was black-balled. Other Alphas told me I would never survive the process and would never become an Alpha. The Omegas knew that Pops was destined to walk in Purple and Gold and John Kinard opened the doorway. Dad said "I didn't have any clothes except for the clothes on my back. John fed me, gave me clothes, and helped me raise the money I needed to pledge into Omega Psi Phi." Years later they remained friends as John became the first curator of the Anacostia Museum in Washington D.C. John and his family were frequent hosts to my family when I was young and I fondly remember eating Monkey Meat, Shark Meat, Octopus, and other exotic delicacies.
Jesse Jackson Sr. (of I am somebody fame) and some other students held some sit-in demonstrations in North Carolina and the "white" citizens of Livingston North Carolina wanted to avoid having a similar situation. These citizens had been donating great sums of money to the historically Black College Livingston, and also the beginnings of the Food Lion Corporation had been supporting the College. A delegate from the citizens contacted the school and sharing their concerns about a possible sit-in stating that if such a sit-in occurred in Livingston the citizens would remove their support and also could impact the funding received from Food Lion. The school's Chaplin contacted Pops and Mr. Kinard and encouraged them to act in the best interest of the school's funding. This Chaplin then drafted a letter written from the perspective of the students stating that they had no interest in holding a demonstration. Pops and John Kinard signed the letter with the implication that they authored the letter and the correspondence was published in the local newspaper calming the concerns of the "citizens". Pops then shared how the students gave he and John hell for their act of betrayal and then held a riot to "demonstrate" their anger on campus. (Photo of John Kinard) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kinard
As Pop's story ended we drove up into the parking lot of New Life - Providence, the church that my wife and Kids having been visiting for over two years now. Their New Years Eve service had been heavily promoted in the church and included food and drinks prior to the service, a service, and food and drinks following the service. New Life is a mixed congregation and prides itself in being "Trans-ethnic" as it boasts membership consisting of people of many ethnicity's promoting that the body of Christ, and the Church accepts all people ethnically. This position of Trans-Ethnic initially turned me off, and now I could take it or leave it. Surprisingly this pastor, Pastor Dan Backens (photo to left) has often shared information I learned in my times frequenting Black studies groups such as the incorrect presentation of 3 Kings on the standard Christian Nativity scenes. Today as we walked in the sanctuary Pastor Dan surprised me and Pops by giving the Black History of the New Year's Eve (Watch Night) Service. I normally post to the e-group of the Imani Foundation each year a special historical note regarding going to church on New Years Eve. "The Watch Night Services in Black communities that we celebrate today can be traced back to gatherings on December31, 1862, also known as "Freedom's Eve." On that night, Blacks came together in churches and private homes all across the nation, anxiously awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation actually had become law.Then, at the stroke of midnight, it was January 1, 1863, and all slaves in the Confederate States were declared legally free. When the news was received, there were prayers, shouts and songs of joy as people fell to their knees and thanked God. Black folks have gathered in churches annually on New Year's Eve ever since, praising God for bringing us safely through another year. It's been nearly 140 years since that first Freedom's Eve and many of us were never taught the African-American history of Watch Night, but, tradition still brings us together at this time every year to celebrate "how we got over." Pastor Dan, an older white guy, almost read the above information word for word with a few changes in the presentation to make it appropriate and relevant. Pops and I looked at each other slightly amazed. (Photo of Paster Dan Backens)
Pops, who has been a minister for over 60 years left the service feeling refreshed and stated that he approved of Pastor Dan's approach to ministry and the service. He had visited the church once before this year when his eyesight was with him. What a difference a few days make. Three months ago he drove himself to this church, now we have to lead him from the truck. I give thanks to the Almighty for 2008. I've had a chance to spend a great deal of time with Pops and my life has been affected, my fatherhood has been affected, and my faith has deepened.
Be Improved...... Love, Seko
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