Many years ago, in the little hamlet called Brooklyn, New York, as I was growing up, a phenomenon was sweeping the land. A sudden influx of Black Churches was being established in various storefronts around the borough in rapid fashion. Commercial establishments were being leased out to God, and people were praying on almost every block.
Not too far from my Grandmother’s house sat just such a church, rising out of the Devil’s work of commercialism, to become one of God’s houses. I remember the people who attended this particular church, probably newly arrived from the South, establishing roots up North, and with it their culture and beliefs.
These were people of great faith, whose piety was borne of great hope, and song, hand clapping and joy. They more than anyone I know or knew then, expressed what devotion to God should be, but is not. The music was loud, fast and had a foot-stomping beat, one that carried you into an ecstasy of happiness and hallelujah good times. Good old Southern Baptist praying at its finest. This was a stark contrast from the solemnity and ritualism of the Catholic Church.
I noticed something about Black people that I truly admire, they strive for and practice their faith through their every day lives. Most I know are happy, joyously loud and filled with laughter. They can also be deeply spiritual. I guess being picked on for all these years makes them so. They can make me laugh, make me suffer with them, and when they describe their cooking, make me hungry.
But why am I telling you this? Well, I was watching a movie last night, about Jackie Robinson, and there was a scene where the Panther team bus, filled with black ballplayers stopped for food and a chance to wash up. They sent Jackie into this roadside restaurant to order sandwiches if he could convince someone to make them for blacks. #1 Son sighed, saying out loud how sad it was they had to do that. It seemed like Jackie was entering a space ship filled with hostile aliens, while he left people on the bus! Sad.
I’m glad neither of my sons are bigoted, I hope they feel that way about old men too.