I wished I had asked my parents more questions about their lives before they were my parents when I had the chance. I would have loved to know exactly why my father left Louisiana and came to Los Angeles in the 1950s. Was there an incident that caused him to sneak off in the night like a runaway slave. Or did he plan for the move?
My parents were a part of the great migration of Negroes that left the South to start over in the North. The North was the promised land where Southern boys could become men. My father was a young man with three children when he left his mother, his siblings, the woman that would become his wife and his children in search of the American Dream. After my father got a job, and his own apartment he sent for my mother and his children. My uncle drove his sister, his nieces and nephew to Los Angeles to be reunited with their father.
I never knew if my father came alone to Los Angeles or if someone from his hometown came with him. Perhaps when he got to Los Angeles there was someone from his small town that took him in until he was able to get his own place. But I do know that my parent’s opened their home to friends and family that left the South for a chance of a better life in the North. People stayed with us until they got a job and their own place.
There was a time in our African American experience that we were our brother’s keeper. We looked out for each other. There was a time when we were not afraid of each other.
I know it’s a different time. We are not as united as we once were, and people will take advantage of your kindness. But we need to find new and creative ways to be our brother’s keeper.
We can at least smile at each other on the streets. We can encourage each other at the workplace. We can stop competing against each other. If your job is hiring tell your brother or sister.
There are many ways that you can be your brother’s keeper without carrying him on your back. If you extend your hand, he may be able to stand up with a little help from his brother.