Honoring a friend

Honoring a friend hover background

Aug 27
2017

Last night, I had the privilege to attend the 82nd Annual Founders’ Banquet for the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. For my readers, family, and friends who don’t know, the DCABP, is one of the most well-respected local civil rights organization in the country. The DCABP was founded by such venerable members of the African American community in Durham as James E. Shepard (founder North Carolina Central University), Louis E. Austin (publisher of the Carolina Times), and C.C. Spaulding (leader of North Carolina Mutual). The banquet honored local leaders, Reverend Lorenzo A. Lynch and Dr. Harold M. Fitts. Congresswoman Maxine Waters gave the keynote.

I also had the honor of speaking on behalf of Reverend Lynch, who I met while working at the library and who officiated the Viking’s and my wedding. Reverend Lynch may be better known to most Americans through his daughter, former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, but in North Carolina, he is a religious leader, a community leader, and a fighter for Civil Rights. Politico has a beautiful article on Reverend Lynch’s local impact, written after Ms. Lynch’s confirmation.

Frankly, going to a banquet where Reverend Lynch is being honored, his daughter and son talk on his behalf, and Congresswoman Waters gives the keynote is the type of thing you savor to tell your grandkids. To participate in the event and to be given the opportunity to share your respect and love for a great man is…well, it’s the kind of thing your grandkids tell their grandkids. Words do not do those feelings justice.

So, thank you Reverend Lynch, for inviting me to speak. May your example continue to light our way through these dark times.

You can donate to the DCABP on their website (either to the Committee work or their PAC‘s political activities). Not from Durham and want to donate locally? The NAACP has local offices all over the country and probably one near you.

For the curious, here is what I said in tribute to Reverend Lynch:

I met Reverend Lynch back in 2006, when I worked at the Main Library down the street–where I know many of the people in this room from. I knew he was a nice man–a retired preacher who everyone treated with respect. Since then, of course, I’ve learned he is a great community leader and a cornerstone of the African American Community in Durham, Greensboro, and throughout North Carolina.

As a white woman from Idaho, I’m not sure I will ever be able to fully appreciate what he means to Durham, its community, and its history, but I can speak to what he has meant to me–and I’m sure our truths overlap.

Reverend Lynch is a kind man and often generous. Years ago, when I was getting chickens and excitingly talking with him at the reference desk about chicken coop plans, he built me a chicken coop. When he found out I was getting a divorce, he got me a couple purse-sized flashlights, to keep my way lit when I came home late after working a night shift.

Reverend Lynch is dedicated to his community, his calling, and the people he cares for. As a retired preacher, he never seemed too retired to me. He regularly came into the library with address of churches in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, needing directions to places where he was giving a guest sermon.

Reverend Lynch is funny. Library staff could always count on him to make us laugh. His humor ranges from self-deprecating to playful to outrageous, but the humor is always there.

Reverend Lynch is a proud papa. For ten years, I’ve watched the development of his children’s careers. He regularly brought in newspaper articles of his daughter’s cases and church programs from his son. Of course, his dedication and pride in his family came together during his daughter’s confirmation hearings when Reverend Lynch again came into the library for addresses–this time to advocate on his daughter’s behalf.

Ultimately, Reverend Lynch is a man who exudes a strong moral heart and deep goodness.  He officiated at my wedding a month ago and the words he spoke there rind deep in my soul, because they speak so much to the man he is.

Reverend Lynch referenced the book All the King’s Men, the first title I ever looked up for him at the library. You have no cause to know this, but Reverend Lynch remembers everything about the books he reads–but never their titles. My lesson from All the King’s Men was to let goodness be what comes out of badness. Reverend Lynch’s optimism comes hard fought and with the full understanding of the evils man is capable of, but also a deeper belief in man’s better self.

Reverend Lynch reminded my husband and I to learn to love your neighbor more as he gets closer, as hard as that may be. When I think of Reverend Lunch, I think of his open arms for all of humanity and how his loves comes with the expectation that we can all do and be better.

Reverend Lynch told the story of the Shulamite woman–reminding the room that your attitude will determine how you are able to meet challenges. I have spoken of his dedication, his optimism, and his sense of humor, but the way he turns toward the sun is also rooted in faith. When I think of what it means to be a good person or a good man or a good Christian, I think of Reverend Lynch.

Reverend Lynch, it is an honor to have been invited to speak on to this room and express what they know as deep in their souls as I do–

That it is an honor to know you, and an honor to be a part of your life, and an honor to have you in mind. Our love for you runs deep.

 

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