There we were.
Only a few feet from each other.
He sat in his wheelchair.
Because of that, I assumed he was older than my 70 years.
We were both at the Smithsonian’s new Museum of African American History and Culture watching a video of the lunch counter protests of the 1960’s.
I watched him for a moment as he watched the video.
What was he thinking?
Had he been there?
Had he faced the taunts and the police and the dogs?
Had he faced the hate?
While I still have much to learn
I know enough to know that the answer to that last question is yes.
I wonder if those videos for him are what it is like for me when I watched Ken Burn’s documentary on the Vietnam War or walk along the Vietnam Memorial on the Mall.
Those scenes and those names are not history for me.
They are my life.
Of course watching that video was the same for him.
It was his life.
It shaped him.
The narrative of the whole museum shaped him.
I wanted to say something to him.
Were you there?
What was it like?
Did you know her?
But, nothing was said.
Only my whispered prayer
Reaching out towards him and all he was thinking and feeling.