Henry

I’ll never forget Henry. He loved my little sister so much. I know we would both cry if I did get to see him again. Many miles, trials, lifetimes between when these pictures were taken and 2:50 am as I write through another sleepless night.

I wrote this on the day John Lewis crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama for the last time. Rest in peace, our Congressman called “The Boy from Troy”. #GoodTrouble

Henry, Sheila (the little blonde nurse) and me (the birthday girl). Halloween. Warri, Nigeria 1968.
We had our birthday party together. Sheila born October 14, 1966. Her car wreck was on July 15. 1984. She was in a coma for eleven years and two days. She died at home and peacefully in her sleep on July 17, 1995. Just as our mother prayed she would.

HENRY

I watched Congressman John Lewis cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the last time today. I was three years old and fifty miles away when he took that beating for equality and racial justice in America.

We lived in Warri, Nigeria 1967 thru 1969. I learned at an early age to see people as people, not as a color. We had a gardener named Henry who fought to protect my sister from a child molester. He taught me to ride a bicycle. He wanted to return with us to America, but could not because there was Civil War and Henry was twenty-three; eligible for military service.

I remember the tears rolling down his face as we left our little village. I do think of Henry often and wonder what happened to him in Nigeria. I also wonder what would have happened to him in America if he could have traveled back to Alabama with us. A white woman with two little white daughters and a very big, very protective black man.

I saw Henry cry; his tears looked like mine. I heard Henry laugh and his laughter was a booming, joyful sound that made you laugh along with him. Laughter, a universal language. On the day Henry fought to protect my sister, his blood was red, just like mine.

One thing was different about Henry. He had a heart of gold.

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