My father was “woke,” long before that word took on its slang meaning. During my early childhood, he owned a grocery store on the edge of the African American community in our small town. Looking back on the many times I was in and out of that store, I don’t recall any drama between my father and his customers, the majority of whom lived nearby, just general conversation and the occasional burst of laughter. My father became so popular that on Easter many families, on the way to or from church, stopped at the store to let “Mr. Nate” take a picture of the children in their holiday finery. Those photos were pasted into our family album along with pictures of my sister and me. I always smile at that memory.

As a White woman nearing 80, I’m saddened to see how much work still needs to be done to end racism in America. If I were younger, I’d be marching in a Black Lives Matter rally, but I’m there in spirit. The example my father set has stayed with me all my life. There’s a lesson here.

Martha Golensky


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