This has been some kind of week.
It began early Monday when a student intern in my office stopped by to alert me that he probably would not be back for a while or maybe not at all this semester.
I barely looked up from my coffee and pile of work. “OK, what is going on?” I asked in my I’m-about-to-hear-some-old-story-again voice.
In a slow rollout of sentences, he said, “Mr. Pratt, I lost my mother over the weekend. …And, my cousin was killed in a car accident. This is a lot. I’ve got some more things I need to do.”
I felt horrible. I told him to go and take care of his business immediately. He looked at me, turned slowly and said “Yeah, yeah. I’ll do that,” before walking out the door.
Just then, my backlog of things to do didn’t seem so pressing.
As the week progressed, the news cycle continued to churn out stories about people shooting and killing police officers. What was happening? As the great NFL football coach Vince Lombardi yelled to his Green Bay Packers team, “What the hell is going on out here?”
Then Wednesday, the on-camera murder of a TV reporter and her cameraman was unbelievable. The coworker accused of shooting them, and recording the incident for TV, later took his own life.
That event hit close to home because of my history as a longtime news reporter.
All of this comes on the heels of the recent shooting deaths in a Lafayette theater. It is a lot to consume.
And the plunge in the stock markets has had me sweating my 401(k), while the pro investors say, “Don’t worry. Just hold on. The ride is expected to be bumpy, but it will get better.” That’s easy for them to say.
While my wife and I were watching television on Wednesday evening, she said, “What a last few weeks!” At the time, we were watching a succession of stories about murder and mayhem across the United States. What a drag.
I needed some good news fast. And wouldn’t you know it, I received it in the form of an email from my daughter.
She sent me several senior class pictures of my grandson, Evan. He is entering his last year of high school. How uplifting it was to see his smiling face. He’s finishing high school. Wow!
It reminded me of the fun times when he would grab my hand as I was heading out of the house and say, “I want to go with Pop.”
That was a smile I really needed.
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I must pay tribute to Amelia Boynton Robinson, an Alabama activist who died Wednesday at the age of 104. She is not well-known in many circles, even though Boynton Robinson is called by some the matriarch of the civil rights movement.
On March 7, 1965, a day now known as “Bloody Sunday,” she was one of the leaders of the peaceful protest for the right to vote. She and several hundred voters tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery to make their case.
The marched ended when Selma police and Alabama state troopers used nightsticks, fists and whatever else was handy to beat down the peaceful marchers. Most people remember a young John Lewis (now a congressman from Georgia) beaten about the head and left bloody by a law enforcement officer.
But a couple of the most telling photographs viewed around the world were of Boynton Robinson. In one photo, she was lying unconscious on the ground with part of her face swollen. A second photo showed her slumped body being held up by another beaten marcher.
The sad photos were symbolic of the racism and brutality of the South, and the harsh reality and danger of seeking the simple civil right to vote. But even more, the photos of Robinson and the others also reflected the courage and indomitable spirit of an incredible generation.
As they would say in the old black church, “Sleep on, Miss Robinson. Take your rest.” Please read and hear more about her by visiting https://youtu.be/Wyy_P4M9Jgc.
Edward Pratt, a former Advocate editor, is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.