At about the same time as President Barack Obama and family were connecting Africa and America in a respectful new way, I was speaking at a family reunion in Burlingame, CA.
I couldn’t escape the symmetry between the brightly festooned members in their African garb and the Presidential trip.
In both cases, the Obama trip and the California event saw the purpose through the eyes of their youngest members.
Here, the youngest new born was brought to the center of the room and surrounded by the matriarchs and patriarchs as they prayed that she would continue to bring the family together.
The President was equally focused on the impact of the door of no return on his two young daughters as the symbolism of being the first African-American president.
Rather than giving a dry lecture on history, I chose to emphasize that we are all history by asking an elder of the family to come forward and answer my questions about what life was like when she was a young girl in Alabama. The younger set was rapt with attention, finding out what music she listened to, what clothes she wore and how Roosevelt was president during her earlier years.
They were able to hear that she had not only seen changes in civil rights, but gotten a doctorate from the University of Alabama.
That’s the way to make history real, by sharing the experiences of elders with today’s young people. Make sure your future has the foundation of the past by connecting the generations together as often as you can.
During National Black Business Month in August, selected because it is a frequent time for family reunions and other gatherings, make sure that part of the tradition is to support black-owned businesses. The National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD) controls more than 1,000 properties, including some luxury venues one would not commonly associate with black business. Black restaurants and caterers could use the business in this downturn as well. Black musicians, dancers and fine arts add to the celebration of our culture.