The picture you see includes some of the beautiful souls that attended my 30 year high school reunion. Just typing that makes me tear up. You see, we all spent time together on this strange island (School) called The School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) located down town in Cincinnati, Ohio. I attended the school from 7th to 12th grade.
The school was created because there was a lawsuit that charged that the school district was racially segregated. The courts found that the schools were unintentionally segregated because our neighborhoods were segregated. SCPA along with other schools at the time were created as counter option to forced busing. The mission of the school was integration through the arts. They were court mandated to have everything in the school be racially balanced 49% Black, 49% White. The core group of teachers who started this school had a strong Montessori background, a strong belief in community.
After the reunion I find myself in deep gratitude and deep sadness. Gratitude for these beautiful people who helped to birth me into the world. I couldn’t do what I do in my work and service without you. I often say that the wonderful thing about the arts and this school is that the arts require that you go inside yourself and bring what is there out into the world. At SCPA we got to bear witness to each others souls on a daily basis. How could that not change who you are? You made me believe that I could do things that at the time were unimaginable to me. You taught me how to move in and out of groups of all races and socio-economic backgrounds seamlessly. I carried you with me and felt your support during my keynote for the National Diversity Conference in Brazil, to the Federal Building in Sabara, and into a Children’s home in the mountains of Brazil, and many more places. The sadness is that even though I’m an extrovert in my work, I’m an introvert in my personal life and words fail to express what you all mean to me. We are truly family. Know that I love each and everyone of you deeply and I will continue to carry you with me as I work for forgiveness and reconciliation in the world.
Photo credit: Brian Gibbemeyer