1969... I had just begun a very long emotional and spiritual journey. The goals of that journey were my need to find new answers for very important old questions-- who am I, where am I going, how am I going to get there. I served as an intern at the Hilltop Youth Center that summer. I learned a lot about myself... how little I knew about other Black people... the music they preferred, the games they played together, their viewpoints of our world. I was caught in the Cold War Syndrome... the Russians were bad; Communists were taking over the free world, and it was my obligation to pray for the fall of the Russian Bear!
Racism at home... I was not attending to the impact it was having on other people of color and on me. I really had no inner image of myself succeeding in anything... doctor, lawyer, priest... no Black role model, no sense of the beauty of Africa, nor that, many generations before, that some of my ancestors had been forcibly taken from Africa and forced to live as slaves.
And sadly, I did not realize that my confused and frightened presence still had a positive effect on the young people that came to the Center.
I had much to learn. I still have much to learn. But this I do know... that you and I can choose to listen to each other, learn from one another, and support one another in becoming honest, open, generous, and self-sacrificing human beings.
And I am so grateful that I was challenged and supported to spend that very painful summer at the center, which is now known as the People's Community Center.
Here is a video of the area around the Center-- the Church right next to it; the wonderful neighborhood, the police station right across from the Center