Receiving an Award for My Love of Children

by on April 8, 2019 · 10 comments

in From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

I recently received an honor of a lifetime, Barrio Station’s “Cesar E. Chavez Humanitarian Award” for my lifelong civil and human rights activism.  When I first got the word from Rachel Ortiz, Executive Director of the Barrio Station, a dear hero of mine, that I was to be given such a precious distinction, I didn’t know what to say other than “Wow!”

After hanging up the phone I couldn’t help but think of what a charmed life I’ve had. A life filled with children. Children, hundreds of them, in school settings all over San Diego County, have made me who I am, gifting me with tight hugs and snappy high fives for just being myself with them:

Out at P.E. with them,
my slam dunks
and shifty moves
and softballs
hit beyond the boundaries
of the playground
dazzling them
and bonding me
as a badass dude
with them.

Rapping with them.
Running laps with them.
Doing the James Brown
Funky Chicken
and the Jerk with them.

Improvising scenes in history
with them
or writing a simple song or a real silly ditty
just to make a boring lesson a little more pretty
for them
and writing prose and poetry
and choreographing dances
with them
to express our sadness when
Medgar and John and Martin
and Malcolm and Bobby
were taken away from me
and them,
giving them the lowdown
on what was happening back then
and what it might mean to them then
and beyond then.
Standing up for them
when the system
was shorting them
and assuring them
that I would never make them
have to prove to me they’re a citizen
no matter what
some godforsaken proposition
said I should do to them.

I couldn’t help myself
because I always felt my duty to them
was seeking a better world for them.

So if I’m a humanitarian it had a lot to do with them, the children, and in their behalf I accept the Cesar E. Chavez Humanitarian Award with immense pride as much of my life I’ve patterned after the likes of him – for he loved children dearly too.

I wish more of the world loved them as he did and as I do so they can turn this wreck of a planet around as only they can do.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

retired botanist April 8, 2019 at 2:14 pm

Wow- congrats Ernie! So happy to read you’ve been honored in this way! I love reading your thoughts, and I may not be a kid anymore, but I learn from and reflect on all of your writings and look forward to many more!


unwashedwallmartThong April 8, 2019 at 6:38 pm

Dude, just keep on rockin’
I love to read your stuff.
If half the people on the planet stood as tall & proud as you, we’d all be way better off.


Marcia Kaplan April 8, 2019 at 9:34 pm

Congratulations! A well deserved award!


Judi curry April 8, 2019 at 11:25 pm

Congratulations! Quite an honor!


LAUREN THOMAS April 11, 2019 at 12:44 pm

Ah, Ernie. This brought tears my eyes. It couldn’t be more deserved. Congratulations. You have made the lives of children – and the world – a better place. Thank you.


Linda Buffington April 11, 2019 at 1:32 pm

This award went to the right person! Congratulations Ernie!
Well Deserved!


Bill Crane April 11, 2019 at 8:15 pm

Ernie, you carried your open heart to make Muir Alternative School happen in 1974.
You have never stopped caring about all of this Earth’s Children Thank you, Bill


Robin Blackwood April 12, 2019 at 7:19 am

Thank you, Ernie, for all you do, and all you have done. You are an inspiration to all.


Thomas Gayton April 12, 2019 at 2:09 pm

I received the Cesar E. Chavez award for Social Justice in 1884


Barbara Lewis April 16, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Congratulations Charles. Couldn’t happen to a better and more true person.


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