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A few weeks ago, I attended the “Homegoing Celebration” of a neighbor. She was 93 years old when she passed. Although her last two years were spent in a nursing home, a family member visited her every day. She was a priority.

During the service, I learned that her family gathered together at her (and her husband’s) home every Sunday. Her family truly embraced the importance of family ties.

As I sat with neighborhood friends during the service, I looked around at those in attendance and greeted folks I hadn’t seen in ages. I became aware of how comforting it was to be in the presence of this large gathering of African Americans.

Deep within me was a love for African Americans, which came from a lifetime of experiences with African Americans who worked hard all their lives; worshipped their God in and out of church; referred to and tried to obey the Ten Commandments; remained hopeful even when oppressed by an unjust system; encouraged me to love and forgive others; hugged me when I was sad; soothed me when I was angry; celebrated my accomplishments; cautioned or corrected me when they thought my foot was on the wrong path.

“I feel the warmth of your lives

Oh and you will live forever …”

(– from “Patchwork Quilt” by Michelle Lanchester, sung by Sweet Honey In The Rock)

At the end of the service, a neighbor and I walked together toward a bus stop. We talked about the service and those in attendance. I mentioned how familiar and comforting it was to be in the presence of so many black folks. “I really love black folks,” I said. Without hesitation she said, “Yes, I do, too.”

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...