Friday, February 20, 2009

Ray-Pec High School visit

Yesterday morning, it was my honor to speak at the Black History Month celebration at Ray-Pec High School. I always enjoy visiting the students at Ray-Pec and have been there several times to teach civics and honor their dominating football team, but this was the first time I was there to present on the subject of diversity. I was very happy to see my friend, former Mayor Pro-Tem Alvin Brooks, on stage with me.

My message was one we all need to hear from time to time, I think. Though we may have all come to America on different ships, we are all in the same boat now. Bigotry and division hurt us all regardless of race.

I told the students of my dad’s father, my grandfather, who was a white man in a small Texas town married to my black grandmother with 18 children in tow.

When I was 8 years old, Grandpa Barton got sick. His daughter, my Aunt April, attempted to visit him in the “white” hospital. After hearing a ruckus in the hallway, my grandfather came out of his hospital room to see the doctors telling Aunt April she could not see her father, and further she needed to leave the building. After my ailing grandfather confirmed that April was indeed his daughter, she was given 3 minutes to visit and then forced to leave.

Working for racial harmony has not only been a life-time civic crusade, but is my personal family reality. It was my privilege to share with the students of Ray-Pec.