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I got into a discussion on Facebook the other day and it brought up an old memory of something that happened while I was in college. I want to share a short version of that story today.

     My third year in college I interned with a company. This company had two internship slots which usually went to engineering students at Tenn. Tech, but that year they reached out to TSU for one of the slots and I got it. During that year the other intern's father passed away and the company asked if I would go to the funeral as a representative. It was kind of last minute, but I decided to go for it. The only thing at the time I was worried about was making it to the town, which was southeast of Jackson, TN. I had never been out that way, but I mapped out a route and believed I could make it. Let me just share at this point that the other intern had expressed to me on several occasions that his family out that way was shall we say 'not into diversity'. Also I grew up being told that people in rural areas of Tennessee are typically 'not into diversity'. Anyway I go and end up running late due to a bad wreck on the interstate, first time I had seen them land a life flight helicopter to get someone. I make it to the church and the service had already begun. I walk in and quickly take a seat in the back, and just so there is no misunderstanding I sat in the back by choice. I must say that there was a little stir when people turned to see me, but it could be several reasons why so I'm not going to pick one. In my mind when I replay the moment its more dramatic like the scene in 'Blazing Saddles' when the new sheriff comes to town the first time. Funeral and burial take place and I figure to head back home when the other intern says no, and that I have to come over to eat at so and so's house. I was like I don't want to impose. It was not a big deal to me, but the interns mom was fired up. She came over and was like you are coming I don't care that the family is 'not into diversity'. So I go and break bread with some people I didn't really know at a house in an area that I may not remember how to get out of quickly (Side note ask me about their horse someday, I'm not going to get into that on here). The afternoon went well as far as I could tell. I remember having a good theological discussion with a family member that was a preacher. I joined in a big hacky sack circle with the all the younger folk. I was invited to stay that night, but had planned from the beginning to return to Nashville so that is what I did.

I tell this story because a person challenged me as to what kind of people I might choose to expose myself to if I suspected certain things about them. This is just one of many examples in my life, but its just my life. I was not on a personal crusade to change peoples hearts that day or any other day for that matter. I'm just living my life. I don't work for the NAACP, the GOP, the DNC, the CSA, ACLU, or any other organization. I do choose to live my life and pattern it after someone (resisting temptation to start preaching), and that will always influence me to do whats right no matter the obstacles or circumstances. That day I was only going to console someone over the loss of a relative. I knew there was potential for an incident to happen, but when is that not true. I was born the color I am, and there has always been that potential from day one, and still is for me today. You know what else there is potential for, GOOD THINGS! You can meet good people and do good things together (I'm still resisting the urge to preach, but I must mention that I read that I got to 'LET MY LIGHT SHINE').
     I really hope people gain perspective from my experiences. I'm definitely not trying to highlight myself with this story. This isn't about me the individual. Its about us, but as the company in this story found out and the mom in this story already knew YOU NEED TO SEE ME.

*Stay tuned for a few more experiences that relate to this message*


  1. Thanks for sharing your story John. I grew up in one of those families "not into diversity" as you say. I didn't know the "N" word was considered offensive until my sixth grade teacher set me straight. I recently watched the movie Hidden Figures, which was a stark reminder of of how things that would absolutely shock us today were commonplace only 50 years ago. I tried to raise my children to judge people by the content of their character. Having seen lots of different areas of our country and of the world during my Navy time, I think that vast majority of people in the world just want go about their business in peace. Pretty simple concept of treating people how you liked to be treated seems awful elusive at times.


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