by Lois Cooper
It’s Black History Month and the District of Columbia African American Legacy Foundation (DCAALF) is celebrating. Join us for a social networking event at one of Petworth’s favorite spots, Petworth Citizen, on Thursday, February 23rd from 5-7pm. It’s a chance to meet some new folks and catch up with your neighbors, and Petworth Citizen will be donating 10% of bar sales to DCAALF.
During the month of February we acknowledge and remember the accomplishment of African Americans. How the blood, sweat and tears of a people tilled the soil, built the railroads, added pizazz to American culture, help to shore up America’s place in the global economy, and erected some monumental structures across this great land, including the White House and the Capitol.
To be honest, it’s really a time that non-African Americans focus on the lives that we live daily. Lives that include the good, the complicated and the imperfect part of being human. The only difference is that we as a race are judged by the logical fallacy of composition. It arises when one suggest that something is true of the whole (race) from the fact that it is true of some part (individuals) of the whole race.
Part of DCAALF’s mission is connecting people and communities, so come out to celebrate Black History. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) coined the phrase “A People’s Journey A Nations Story.” Join us on the journey. Council Member Brandon Todd from Ward 4will give some remarks and attendees will get a sneak peek of “Legacy on the Potomac” the story of local African American growing up in DC. Support DCAALF’s efforts to complete the project through your donations. Hope to see you there!
I offer you this poem in summation...
Mary T. Lathrap 1895
Pray, don't find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.
There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.
Don't sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.
You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.
Don't be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And it's only wisdom and love that your heart contains.
For you know if the tempter's voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.
Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.
I believe you'd be surprised to see
That you've been blind and narrow minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.
Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.
Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people's lives, our kindnesses and generosity.
Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.