By Leslye Joy Allen Historian, Educator, Theatre and Jazz Advocate & Consultant, Ph.D. Candidate
Copyright © 2014 by Leslye Joy Allen. All Rights Reserved.
Walking in the cold in downtown Atlanta today I had a pleasant conversation with a nice, young brother. We struck up our conversation in the typical way that native Atlantans (and most southerners) do when we make eye contact. “Good morning,” we said in unison. Then we both laughed and said, “It is COLD out here!”
The young brother told me he was currently living in a shelter. He also enrolled in an education and work program designed to help him get back on his feet. He said, “No Ma’am,” and “Yes, Ma’am,” which is always a sign of good manners. He was extremely positive and smiling.
“I am grateful for a place to lay my head,” he said. Almost as if I was his mother—for I am certainly old enough—he assured me that he was going to use this momentary set back in his life as a stepping stone toward a better future. I told him to keep the faith, keep working and moving. He said, “Thank you and have a blessed day.” “You too,” I answered, and we headed in different directions as the wind blew through downtown Atlanta.
Then as I neared the MARTA train station, I heard the infectious melody and rhythms of Pharrell Williams’ Oscar-nominated song “HAPPY” playing from some radio. So, two elderly Black women decided that it was as good of a time as any to dance to the music, so they cut a few steps on the sidewalk, and all of the folks near the train station stopped to watch, smiling and yelling, “Go ‘head” and “Get Down!” Count your blessings. Àṣé!