Even though I’ve been out of your jurisdiction for over 15 years.
Regardless of where I receive my mail.
There is one immutable fact that informs every fiber of my being.
I know where home is…
I love you because I am you.
My Father always told me that home is where the heart is – that being said, you will never cease to be my home.
It was on your Streets, Boulevards and institutions where I came of age…
The 1100 block of North Milwaukee Ave – Noble Square.
Your ambiance served to define me.
Your skyline served as fuel for a resilience that would help me to push back against the vainglorious attempts of a world that would have me believe that I should be neither seen or heard.
Shun P. on the Near West side – next to Lawrence’s Fisheries – a Chicago staple.
My recollections take me back to a point where you weren’t that place.
Goodbye high school and hello Columbia College – Chicago!
A time when you weren’t besmirched with monikers that give undue credence to the darker angels of our humanity.
You are so much more than that.
Ever since I was a young boy sitting at the feet of my Elders, the stories they imparted to me reinforced that which I knew to be true.
You are an ethereal place – one that has nurtured generations of my family.
Since the turn of the 20th century various members of my family have called you home.
My 4th Great Aunt Fannie Austin-Morris (2) who was married to the Rev. Elias Camp Morris (1) moved to Chicago after his death to live with her son Fred Douglas Morris (3). Three of their children: Elias (4), Sarah (6) and Spurgeon (7) also made their home in Chicago in the late 1920’s.
Both sets of my Grandparents were part of the Great Migration
, which saw the relocation of over 6 million African-Americans from the rural South to cities in North, Midwest and Western parts of the United States from 1916 to 1970 in search of better opportunities.
My paternal Grandparents made their way from Arkansas and my maternal Grandparents hailed from Tennessee and Alabama in the 1940’s.
The one commonality between them?
They left – and with the exception of visits to the family members that remained in the South…
None of them bothered to look back.
They loved you and you saw fit to love them back.
I saw the resolve that you infused my Grandparents and parents with and it infected me.
The testimony of my last surviving Grandparent, my maternal Grandmother, my Bigmama, who is 95 years old at the time of this writing never ceases to inspire me.
Shun P and his Bigmama in Chicago (2017).
“There wasn’t nothing for me in Alabama – and I wasn’t going to work in nobody’s blamed kitchen where they would try to treat me like a dog!
I got my a ticket for Chicago on Friday, got there on Sunday and I was working by Monday!
I use to ask her if she was scared…
If the prospect of leaving the place that she called home since her birth – to go to a strange place where she only knew a couple of people outside of her Aunt.
Her response is always the same:
I’m not any different than my Bigmama – in that you are part and parcel of who I am.
These are uncertain times and you need more than the hollow entreaties from those who profess to love you.
You are under siege by soulless people in the political realm who put themselves before your interests to gain glory in enriching themselves above all else.
While they work in concert with the assorted sycophants in the neighborhoods across the 606 who provide cover to those who terrorize because of a gnawing hollowness that is all encompassing.
I need you to know that you are loved – as these tears from those who love you are more than hollow displays of emotional fragility.
These tears will reverberate at a frequency that will serve to be redemptive and baptismal in nature.
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