Our playing success allowed us the opportunity to travel outside our home county, Cherokee, to play in invitational tournaments in the region. Our winning streak continued but there was one tournament that will always stand out in my mind. It required our team to travel to the county seat of neighboring Forsyth County in Cumming. This was a problem. Black people were notoriously unwelcome in Forsyth County (Oprah Winfrey visited there in the 80s and broadcast one of her most famous episodes from Cumming on the subject of racism.) To be sure, "unwelcome" is the epitome of understatement for how black people felt about Forsyth County. It's history could have come straight from the pages of Isabel Wilkerson's THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS. None of my teammates made the trip. We won our game but not by our customary margin and NOTHING about that trip felt right. When I asked my parents why Dwight, Chris, James and Ronnie refused to go, they told me a truth so ugly that I refuse to repeat it!
Blacks and whites would have never used the same funeral home. In spite of racial desegregation, certain aspects of life would need far longer to "homogenize". One of those aspects being death. Thirty years on, societal evolution set the scene for our meeting. How serendipitous, how karmic that meeting was!
I couldn't help wondering, "did seeing me have any effect on them?"
What more could I ask for?
But maybe not for the reasons you think...