Sep 17, 2016 3:14 AM GMT
Robert L. Wilkins, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, served on the presidential commission created by Congress to plan the National Museum of African American History and Culture. His book on the creation of the museum, “Long Road to Hard Truth,” was released this month.
Lewis Fraction never imagined that his death would help inspire work toward a museum on the Mall.
“Brother” Fraction and I were mentors in a church youth program when he died 20 years ago, just shy of his 60th birthday, leaving behind a wife and four grown children. While at his home to comfort his family and remember his life, I was struck by the stories told by the elders gathered there.
Stories about the myriad joys of youth — the courtship rituals, old dance steps, swooning over Sam Cooke. Stories about all-black, one-room, ramshackle schoolhouses and the nurturing but stern teachers who presided over them. Some described never seeing a whole piece of chalk or a new textbook — just broken bits and beaten-up books handed down from white schools. There were stories about countless indignities, major and minor, and the psychological wounds they inflicted.
Magnificent stories. Awful stories. Profound stories....