Unexpected Pleasures

So you may remember from my Impulsive & Impetuous ditty from a few days ago that my intention of spending quality time with my aging parents didn’t happen. Well, the opportunity re-surfaced on Sat.

My mom asked me if I wanted to attend the funeral of a cousin, a prominent Atlanta real estate mogul and integrationist named Calvin Cooledge Thorton, with her. Funerals are not my idea of a big time, but she really wanted to go, and may not have if I didn’t accompany her, so I agreed to do so. We had some trouble finding the church, but once we arrived and got into the flow of the program, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. The young minister Christopher Wimberly brought a powerful message based on Psalms 30:5—Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning– to encourage family & friends in this time of grief, with special emphasis on liberation & confirmation after tribulation & lamentation!

You see this event was not really a funeral but rather a celebration of this trailblazer’s life. Dear friend Frank Odum extolled Calvin’s business saavy, generous nature & fun-loving spirit with tales of adventure & advocacy. Calvin had been brave enough to cross a color line in SW Atlanta, moving his family into the all-white neighborhood subdivision called Utoy Forest (off Peyton Rd, on Fielding Lane), and then building more homes into which blacks would move. He was the MLK for the neighborhood, and conducted business with much style & grace.

So what could be more fitting for the trip to his final resting place than a regal, horse-drawn carriage, complete with tophat-wearing European-American footmen and majestic white steeds decked out w/plumes atop their proud heads. I revelled in the surprising, yet fitting nature of this flip of the script, especially given the rising tide of racism (e.g., Don Imus’ nappy-headed ho’s, Michael Richards n-word tirade) in our country. I am deeply grateful for Calvin’s hard work towards justice & equality in housing, and can also see there’s much left to be done in this arena, as well as many others. I trust that those of us who remain are up to the task, if we choose to be so. We have ample strong & broad shoulders, Like Calvin’s, on which to stand. What action will you take today to forward this noble & necessary endeavor?


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