A Legacy to Keep, A Legacy to Make
I was at the airport in Bellingham, Washington, when, in unison, the television screens announced Nelson Mandela’s death. I was struck by how, in an environment in which people typically rush to their gates, to their luggage, to the bathroom, to the exits, to anywhere but each other – here, at this small airport, everyone stopped. And then watched the CNN coverage. And then looked around at everyone else. It was one of those “layering moments.” I don’t know what else to call it. Blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans watching a screen filled with black and white South Africans. I was moved almost as much by my surroundings as by the enormity of the news itself. If the entire world can pause, I think maybe it did.
Maya Angelou’s tribute poem is a reminder for all of us of the legacies worth keeping, and the legacies worth building: to work peacefully for an end to violence, to find the humanity amidst brutality, to understand, reconcile and forgive, to unite and move forward, and to patiently take the small steps that will one day change the course of history.
I don’t very often look at myself in the mirror, but today I did, and here is what I said: never forget that it is a privilege to work for justice and a blessing to be free.
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