A Good Day

June 25, 2010 

Sunday past was Fathers Day.  Unlike many others my father is still with us and we’re still building memories.  I’d like to share this one:  1956 I was five years old.  The family piled into the car on a Sunday drive from Gum Springs into the District of Columbia to visit my maternal great grandparents. A pony ride operated at the intersection of Richmond Highway and Fort Hunt Road.   Little kids were lined up giddy with anxious excitement. The idea of taking his three kids on a pony ride delighted my father, and he asked if we wanted to. My brother and sister spoke up willingly. I had reservations. My father parked and along with my mother we waited in the car and watched him approach the attendant. Moments later he returned and started the car. My mother asked what happened. He responded, the man said they didn’t allow niggers to ride their ponies. We drove off everyone in silent wonderment. I can’t tell you how relieved I was at not being mounted on a beast and paraded about the smelly stable grounds. Though I had a cowboy outfit, I never wanted to be a cowboy.  Like I said, it was a good day to be a nigger –for me at least–not so for my father.  Can you imagine the indignities our forefathers endured?

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
‘Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

Sculpture:  Lift Every Voice and Sing by August Savage, 1939

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