I got talking with a friend about Black History Month the other day. He lamented the fact that he had been born and raised in a part of the Midwest where he had never met an African American until he became an adult. I felt so sorry for him.
I’m sure you’re wondering about the title of this piece. I feel we’re throwing the black people a bone by designating just one month to highlight their history and their achievements.
My dear friend Cy Young, in a radio interview with me back in the 1970s, laughed when they expanded Black History Week to Black History Month. “They gave us the shortest month of the year,” chuckled the Rev. Cy.
In thinking of how many people of color have touched me, I can only conclude how sterile, how lackluster, how desolate, how barren my life would have been without their involvement. The thesaurus doesn’t have enough words.
I’m not just talking about major public figures, like our former President and Dr. Martin Luther King. And I’m not just talking about casual acquaintances. I’m talking about deep friendships, personal relationships. I’m talking about people who made a profound impact on my life. I just made reference to the late Rev. Cy Young, whose life was cut short when struck down by a car as he exited a civil rights meeting. Many of you know about the late Maurice Carter, black man from Gary, Indiana, whose wrongful conviction saga led to a new career for me.
I can’t begin to list all of them. The page isn’t large enough, and I’d surely forget some names. The amazing and exciting post script to this is that more are still being added. Each day! Many of them are incarcerated…men and women whom we try to help, in one way or another, eventually leading to friendship.
I’ve never tried anything like this before…maybe it won’t work. But before you leave this page, I ask you to take 3 minutes and enjoy a song with me. The familiar hymn JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE is sung here by a black gospel quintet that flourished in the Muskegon area in the 50s. I first met the Spiritualaires as a teen-aged weekend radio announcer on WMUS in Muskegon around 1955. I loved these guys, and loved their music! They’re all gone now. But please enjoy this performance with me, recorded in 1958, as we exit Black History Month, 2020. You’ll not hear a better rendition of this classic!
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.