Saturday my wife went to hear her cousin speak in a church. She hadn’t been in that church in 53 years; it was the church we got married in. Her parents’ pastor would not marry us and they wanted their daughter to be married in a Holiness church, so Bishop King interviewed us and agreed to marry us. His son is the pastor now. The congregation got a kick out of this kind of home coming but they would really have had an uproarious time if they had heard the full story. We were probably the first Black/White couple married in AZ (1964) and the church was packed with people we didn’t know.
But the story of her day completed the circle of our lives in another way. I frequently have YouTube videos playing of religious ceremonies of the Afro-Atlantic world: candomble, vodou, santeria, Shouters, Rastafarians, and so on. She mentioned to our daughter how she thought it was so neat how the ladies were all dressed in white and sang a cappella, “just like in those YouTube videos from Latin-America and Africa.” Yes, exactly.
55 years ago (we’ll be married 53 years in June) I took my wife to a drive-in to watch the movie Black Orpheus and do some other stuff. It is a very famous movie and one scene involved a candomble ceremony in Brazil. I wrote here in 06, “I took her to see Black Orpheus and she immediately recognized the reflexes in the candomble scenes of the Pentecostal church services she had been raised in. I fell in love then.” To be able to see the threads of cultural maintenance of African culture in both the Brazilian and the North American context was remarkably observant, but to overcome the at that time near universal rejection of ties to Africa among Black Americans was a testament to her intellectual independence. When she told her mom, did you know we’re from Africa? her mom replied, you may be but I’m not