Black History Month: Who Inspires Me Part Two


As #BlackHistoryMonth draws to a close, I want to share Part 2 of who inspires me. Like my mother you won’t recognize his name, you won’t find his name in history books, but his name is forever engraved on my heart. He was my dad, Ray O. Benjamin. A Korean War veteran, carpenter, husband, father, he taught me it takes more strength to hold your tongue than to loose it. I never heard him curse or even raise his voice.

He taught me that family comes first. Always. That being part of a family sometimes requires sacrifice that doesn’t feel like sacrifice. I remember the great Black Out of 1965. We were little kids. Mom was home alone with us. Dad was on the subway on his way home from work. Once he was off the train he proceeded to walk home by the light of the moon and matches. He walked from Brooklyn to the Bronx. Once he got home, he climbed twenty-one flights of stairs in the dark to reach us. Opening the door, moonlight told him he climbed too far, was on the roof. When our Aunt, who had also walked to our place with a flashlight and the moon to light her way, opened the door, he fell into her arms. But he was safe. His family was safe.

He taught me that family is greater than the sum of its members, that stronger families makes stronger communities; that there is no problem too great to solve, if we work together. Even though he is gone now, every day he inspires me to be the best husband I can be, to be a better man, to put family first. Always.


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