WITNESSES TO THE MIRACLE OF BLACKNESS

Sojourners

CommentaryLiving FaithRacial Justice

WITNESSES TO THE MIRACLE OF BLACKNESS

BY DANTÉ STEWART

I had breakfast with my daddy recently. We talked about all that had happened in the past year, how things were going at Walmart, how hard it was for him to work long hours, and how crazy it has been doing all of this in a pandemic. I was glad to be able to sit down with him. We didn’t really do that too much when I was younger, but the older I have gotten, the closer I’ve wanted to become.

“Hey daddy,” I asked, “what got you into politics?” He paused. He bent his head over a bit. He shook it side to side. “Those white boys back then tried to lynch my brother,” he said. “That did it.”

I couldn’t say anything. I was stunned. I had known my daddy to be reserved, quiet. He stands 5 feet, 5 inches tall and has a slight limp from spinal surgery. His beard is grey and black, wrapping around his face like the mask he was wearing. And he felt every bit of the words that were coming out of his mouth. His body, which had been relaxed, tensed up. I knew the memory had come back in terrible ways.

“Daddy, as a pastor,” he continued, “really didn’t get involved in politics.” His daddy, who I barely remember, pastored a small Black rural church in Dillon, S.C. “But for us,” he said, recounting his life in the ’60s and ’70s, “for us, we went from colored to Black.”

I knew what he meant. My daddy and so many Black folks like him had gotten tired of a world that saw them as problems and not people. He had gotten so tired of Black lives being terrorized. He had to find a way through the brutality of this country. And he knew that this was the story that I needed to hear.

“Daddy,” I said. “I’m glad you told me that.”

“That’s the only way we have made it,” he told me. Telling stories is the only way.

Read more: https://sojo.net/articles/witnesses-miracle-blackness

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