Me at the National Association of Black Journalists Gala with the award I won for my essay in More magazine: My Family Tree in Black and White.
Over the weekend, I attended the National Association of Black Journalist’s gala in Boston where I received a Salute to Excellence award for an essay I wrote inspired by researching my family’s history. It was a real honor to be acknowledged by this nearly 40 year-old association that helps foster the careers of minority journalists and counts Pulitzer Prize winners among its members and award recipients. But more than anything, I hope my ancestors were honored by my telling of their story.
The only bad thing about my recent trip to Brazil was the timing. While my family and I were there, Americans were marking the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I wasn’t at the first March in 1963 because I wasn’t born yet. So, I hoped to be at this one with friends from my Unitarian Universalist congregation in Montclair and from Coming to the Table, an organization that brings together the descendants of slaves and slave owners in order to heal the historic harms of slavery. These are two groups near and dear to my heart that inspire me.
Coming to the Table was inspired by the vision of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his historic March on Washington speech that one day “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” On August 28th, the same day the march happened in 1963 and 50 years later, an essay that I wrote came out in MOREmagazine. My essay is about the relationship with my “linked descendants,” the people whose ancestors once owned my great, great-grandmother, Tempy Burton. So, I guess in a way, even though my body was in Brazil, a part of me did make it to the march. And somehow, while I did not orchestrate it, my UU friends met my Coming to the Table friends and marched together. That’s some serious synchronicity.
My friends, Phoebe Kilby, from Coming to the Table, and Emilia Colon from the Undoing Racism Committee at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Montclair. They were together at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington that took place last week.
Me and my essay in the September issue of MORE magazine on news stands now! (Photo courtesy of Greer Burroughs)