I got a couple of notes on a listserv recently thanking me for some comments I made and obliquely acknowledging the fact that my combination of working-class White origins and immersion in the African-American community for many decades has given me some insights that can prove useful to teachers. The person responsible for my introduction into that community passed away and we went to his memorial service Saturday.
Having attended many, many funerals over the years in that Pentecostal church, even for family members, I had never spoken but had resolved to speak on the event of Leroy’s death. So there I was, on the program, sitting in a pew, wondering what I would say (yes, believe it or not, sometimes I am at a loss for words). The hardest part, I knew, would be capturing his character but the assembled usher board, the deacons, spoke to that very well so I just fleshed out a little of how he would bring me to church every night after numerous cups of coffee and then return us to more coffee. The patience he showed with me over those years was what others saw in him.
One of several children not his own that he raised was talking to me at the repast and we laughed at how his rough upbringing peeked through now and then as when I pointed out a police cruiser sitting in a lot as we drove by and he said, “Oh, I’ve got something for that puppy” and his boy said, “… and he pulled out the bat.” Exactly. I have to laugh at people who express doubts as to the brutality of the police when I think of gentle Leroy who had absolutely no doubt as to that brutality and prepared for it.
Requiescat in pace, Leroy.