|Could I look more goofy?|
I marvel at people who can tell you the exact date that a past event occurred. I’m not good at recollecting dates or the details of the past. True, I can see an event as if it’s happening right now, but when it comes to the when I’ve got to look at someone’s calendar, phone a friend or get help from the audience.
Still, I know the importance of looking back. I tell folks that every car has a rearview mirror and in order for you to drive forward, from time to time, you have to take a glance back.
Yesterday, I had the chance to do that. While in Jacksonville, I stopped by my alma mater, Jacksonville, University. It was a just a quick visit with my daughter, but within that time I was flooded with memories of the past and a flash of just how far I’ve come.
I remembered when I first got there, afraid and alone wondering if I’d fit in. I’d come from an all-black high school; the last graduating class before desegregation in Wilmington, Delaware to the lily white campus of JU. The campus president, Fran Kinne was progressive and practical; she was going to change the world, one student at a time.
I told my daughter about her reaction to students who had put up signs demanding that Iranian students go home. President Kinne held an assembly and announced that the signs should be gone immediately and any student who did not comply or who participated, perpetrated or stood by and watched an act of aggression in any way to another student because they were different from them would be the one who went home.
We walked into the Fine Arts building and in my mind, I could smell the fried chicken that my roommate, Rhonda Williams' family had prepared for the reception after her classical recital. The professors remarked that it was the first time in the history of the music department that the recital hall was standing room only. Rhonda performed arias and spirituals and the eloquence and power of her performance brought us all to tears.
When I went into the Gooding Building, where all of the behavioral science classes were held, I felt like a kid again. I raced up the flight of steps without an ache or strain and forgot that I was 51 not 17. The thrill of seeing the name of an old professor on the board excited me beyond reason.
Dr. Liz Winstead was the professor who told me that I should go on to graduate school and although I didn’t know what it was, I told her that I would; and I did. I knocked on her office door hoping, but she wasn’t in. I vowed to come back to see her and to run those magical stairs.
I live only a few hours from the Jacksonville University, but I hadn’t been back. Life gets in our way. But this week, think of a place that holds fond memories, plan a trip and then take it.
Allow your past to renew your present. Let it remind you of how far you've come.
We all need a quick look in our rearview mirror, but remember, the windshield is so much bigger.
Be you, see well, be present.
Bertice Berry, PhD.