This is the first of a collection of stories regarding how I was raised, what lead me to lead ministries for 25 years to people outside of my race and culture, and how my Bahamian wife and mulitcultural family built through adoption are part of a powerful multicultural, multiracial, and multigenerational ministry in the South Atlanta area.
I love the South in the United States. I love our cultures. I love our people. I was born and raised here. I have lived and served the folks in the Southeast region of our United States for decades through the local church.
Southern food will definitely be served in heaven. Pecan pie (I pronounce it pee-cans), sweet potato pie, and pound cake make me smile. Buying a bag of boiled peanuts on the side of the road during summer and fall months makes me feel the South is putting her arms around me. If I go to a restaurant where fried green tomatoes are on the menu, I have to order them! (my favorite so far was eating them on the deck of the Hudson’s Seafood Restaurant on the Docks in Hilton Head, South Carolina)
The South is made up of beaches, mountains, small town wonders, big cities with international influence, rivers, waterfalls, and plains. In the South, we have Florida’s tourist attractions, New Orlean’s Bourbon Street, and Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina’s beautiful coasts, the Gulf’s green waves, and Nashville’s gift of country music.
Then there is Atlanta. I am bias to Atlanta because I live here. We have the best of everything – food, attractions, baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. Atlanta is the home of the largest airport in the world – Hartsfield-Jackson. If you have flown, I am pretty sure you have flown through, to, or from Atlanta.
Atlanta is also home to Dr. Martin Luther King and is the home of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. I enjoy taking out of town guest by his and his wife, Coretta Scott King, grave in downtown Atlanta and tour through famous Ebenezer Baptist Church. It is a sobering moment each time of a life taken too soon.
No Summer in the South is complete without watermelons, peaches, tomato and/or pimento cheese sandwiches and a trip down the ‘hooch’ (Chattahoochee River). Spring begins when the first plate of sautéed squash and onions are placed on the Sunday dinner table. Fall doesn’t really start until you pick apples in the North Georgia mountains. And Winter? We all simply want to skip Winter. After Christmas, it is time for Spring but in the South, Winter doesn’t really shows its wonder until after Christmas.
And speaking of Christmas, many Southerns are known to use Christmas Day afternoon for packing up their decorations until next Fall. Yes, Southerns love to decorate for Christmas the day after Halloween and yet, on Christmas Day, it is all swiftly coming down! No ifs, ands, or buts. . .
Thanksgiving is nice as well. The weather could be cool, cold, or hot as a Summer’s day. No matter the weather, kitchens will be filled with food everywhere. Eight desserts, three meats, and a heaping of sides will fill every inch of the kitchen counters. And speaking of holidays, there is Memorial Day weekend and July 4th.
On those holidays, you WILL wear your red, white, and blue. Don’t have any? No worries. You simply go to your local retail or sports store and grab you a $5 dollar patriotic shirt located right near the door. You purchase it and wear it on the said holidays. Again, no ifs, ands, or buts. . .
Yet, as much as I love the South and as much as I love the food, the people, and our traditions, the South is not innocent. Our history is not perfect. It has its flaws and major setbacks which I believe we have not talked about enough or if any at all. So I thought I would tell about my South and being raised to ‘stick to your own kind.’ I want to share how I bucked the words of my upbringing and loved and talked across the classroom aisle to those whose color was not ‘of my own kind.’
My South is how I loved those beyond my immediate racial circle – white – and which eventually allowed me to marry the love of my life, raise a racially integrated family, and lead a Holy Spirit empowered multicultural, multiracial, and multigenerational church in the south Atlanta metro area. This is my South. This is my story – the story of a southern son of slave owners who broke family history and loved beyond my race.
To be continued. . .
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