Unification News for May 1996
Beyond the Dream: Black & White Sisterhood
by Cheryl Roth and Heather Thalheimer-Boston, MA
"Dreams don't become reality unless we give them legs," spoke Dr. Deborah Harris, the keynote speaker. As our legs carried us across the bridge of racial harmony, we began to see a new reality. All eyes were filled with tears, hearts pounding, embracing, clutching one another we knew the walls of resentment and fear were beginning to crumble.
The reality: each of us harbors prejudice within from learned concepts, bad experiences and ancestral resentment. Our hearts are blocked from seeing and feeling the greater reality.
The greater reality: by examining our inner selves, then opening our hearts to one another, we began the process of healing which will allow us to see and know the goodness, truth and beauty within each individual, culture and race.
This was the inner content of the African-American/Caucasian sisterhood ceremony held in Boston two Sundays after Easter. As is fitting of the month of April, our hearts and spirits were resurrected through this day's events.
After a few words of welcome by our co-emcees to the African-American women, the Caucasian women entered the ballroom. The room quickly became a-buzz with friendly greetings and warm embraces.
More welcoming remarks were given by a representative of the Women's Commission from the Mayor's office. Letters of welcome from First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Governor Weld were read. After this impressive beginning, our spirits were lifted even higher by two beautiful anthems-"America the Beautiful" sung by Mrs. Paulette Wiesinger, and "Lift Every Voice" sung by Mrs. Kim St. Luce.
Representatives from the African American and Caucasian communities exchanged greetings and flowers. Each gave a very moving and personal speech, different in character, allowing us to see from different perspectives what needs to be restored.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Deborah Harris, is a well-respected educator and professional orator from Tampa, Florida. However, at the beginning of her talk she confessed that she could not approach this as an orator, but had to go deep into her soul to confront her own barriers of racial prejudice. She spoke from her heart of her need for healing and acceptance. She expressed deep gratitude that God had allowed her and everyone there to participate in this internal journey and external ceremony.
Through exposing her own feelings and experiences in her lifelong search for racial equality and harmony, she led us into deep reflection. She challenged us to experience healing through confronting the internal issues. Her own sense of dignity, knowledge and experience gave us encouragement. She empowered us by reminding us of the value and power God gave to women at the time of creation.
To make a lasting impression she demonstrated to us how external appearances can be deceptive-by removing her jacket and shoes to reveal a tattered blouse and holes in her stockings. She asked us not to cover up who we are to deal with each other heart to heart. The content of our character is what should lead us to accept each other, not the color of our skin or the way we dress or the position we hold.
Nothing could have been more appropriate to prepare the atmosphere for the bridge ceremony than this speech. Everyone in the room crossed the bridge, including some children, bringing tears of joy and hope to every eye. We could feel our example taking substance in the future generations through the children's pairs. After the bridge crossing we read our sisterhood pledge together and exchanged corsages and personal information. Our emotions were given expression through songs from Cantor Sheila Cline and powerful soul music by Cynthia Miles Gray.
The main program ended at about 3pm as we floated out of the room on clouds of exhilaration to attend the Luncheon. For an hour we ate and shared informally with one another.
Participants lingered long after the celebratory music finished, sister not wanting to leave sister.
The great triumph of this event continued to unfold in the days and weeks following the program. Our WFWP office phone was a-buzz with calls of thanks from participants. The only complaint was we hadn't enough tissues on hand!
A week after the event one participant recounted with joy the four phone conversations she'd had with her sister.
A quiet revolution has begun, a revolution of the heart towards true love, a love that knows no cultural, ethnic or color bias. Let us all share in this new world "beyond the dream."
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