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I'm Free


My great uncle Ben Taylor's Annual Fish Fry

Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.

If I get there before you do,
(Coming for to carry me home)
I'll cut a hole and pull you through.
(Coming for to carry me home)

If you get there before I do,
(Coming for to carry me home)
Tell all my friends I'm coming too.
(Coming for to carry me home)

One of my best friends forever thinks that rocking a not so teenie weenie afro, proudly celebrating Freedom Day or Juneteenth, devouring a porkalicious plate of soul food and being a Spike Lee super fan makes me radical. Today is Juneteenth. In 1865, two years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation became official, enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were told they were free.   

I can't recall attending an event that solely celebrated the thirteenth amendment but I do remember multitudes of family and community gatherings rooted in faith and food. My great uncle Ben's Annual Fish Frys, East Friendship Baptist Church end of vacation bible school cookouts, Cousin Tom's Labor Day gatherings and the list goes on and on. Looking back, the people and platters of good eats laid the foundation for my undying desire to host friends and create family traditions

As I unfold and frame the American flag that graced my maternal grandfather's (whom I never met) coffin, I'm reminded that I'm free because they were toiling and smiling. On June 19th, I salute the nameless faces strutting perfectly iron clothes, tall strong women and men organizing cultural performances, coiffed hair and bellies readying for communal feasts.

I'm mirroring the folks of the late 1800s to present-- nothing radical. 

Reader Comments (3)

beautifully written, Nicole.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterulla

Beautiful, wonderful, brilliant.

July 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancie McDermott


Diversity is a fabulous thing if people appeciate the differences and the commonalities. Every ethnic/cultural grouping has a right to celebrate it's own traditions and be respected in the process. We are most beautiful when we are truly being ourselves. It is oppression (by self and other socio/political constructs) that makes us ugly.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChef and Steward

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