Mr. E. Smith, late of Palmetto (early ’90), is part of my memories related to racism and the present crisis in our nation. Today, I need to honor this wonderful man for his realistic insights and his decision to trust me to be able to hear and act on his truths.
He was a black man who drove his old truck to Anna Maria Island to trim our palm trees. I was a white woman, working toward a masters degree at USF. My task was a paper on the greatest challenges to children in a culture.
Mr. Smith happened by and I began to question him. He hesitated. I could sense his concern with some element of fear from him and his workers.
They all held their breaths when he began to talk about racism being the biggest challenge for children in the black culture. His men quickly joined the conversation, giving me more examples.
Thankfully, I knew I was being honored/trusted by these men. I wrote a new paper with this new knowledge. Since then I have tried to share my knowledge.
After Dallas, I know others need a Mr. Smith, need to have that honesty to trust one another to hear awful truths and act on the truths of the other.
Mr. Smith did not live to see that day. May his actions with me in 1991 bear fruit again and again in our future.