It's been more than 40 years since the New York City Police beat you for no reason. We never talk about it because the pain and suffering was more than Mom could take at the time. Instead, we took your teachings and advice and the three of us and Mom kept moving forward. Mom tried to take legal action against the city, but the late New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and the late former mayor Ed Koch effectively killed the case like in many other cities.
You weren't running, you didn't have a bad check, you weren't drunk and it doesn't matter if you were. In fact, you were on the way home from a Federal Government EEOC job to be with your family. They said they beat you for allegedly running a yellow light at the tunnel and less than ten years later, I positioned myself professionally to interview Mayor Koch about it. During the radio interview, I mentioned police brutality and my father. Because it was radio, no one could see his face obviously, but the late Mayor smiled and while giving me the evil eye, he said: “We don’t have police brutality in New York City”. I said “Really?” and he very emphatically said: “REALLY”. CASE CLOSED. After so many decades and so many more cases of police brutality, I want to tell you where we are on this Father’s Day, 2020.
You taught the three of us well. We have conducted our lives with confidence and heads always up. We look everybody in the eye, not intimidated by anyone and we understand our lives change dramatically the moment we leave our homes. As the oldest, I am grateful to have learned from your grandmother; my great grandmother and all the family in your parents’ generation. I watched my grandfather wear his minister collar, carry his bible and demand fairness from the town’s white people. I watched you in all your cases with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In your day, those were the baby steps that gave us the confidence to keep it going. You physically suffered so much while the officers who beat you were promoted as heroes. This Father's Day I want you to know it’s still happening. The difference is something you never knew about; camera phones. I wish there were camera phones that day at the Holland Tunnel.
You’d be over the moon to know you have two grandsons. One makes faces just like you made when he is concentrating on something. The other has the gift of gab and his own fashion style, just like you. I know my sister and I were always your favorite little girls, but I also know you nearly stood on your head when you finally had a son….your namesake. He has picked up where you left off and raised these two very confident young men who learned from us what we learned from you and the folks before you. They know who they are, they like who they are. They are smart and they understand how to be careful when they leave the confines of the home you died to buy.
All three of us are now older than you were when you left us and we are very grateful to have lived this long to see what our upbringing means. Our upbringing yielded us the ability to help in sending two educated, respectful and handsome young black men into the next generation with power and confidence. Your grandsons WILL help to change the world. Love you Daddy and Thank you.