It’s a Joy Seeing My Hometown Tucson’s Appreciation of its Diversity

by on February 2, 2023 · 1 comment

in Civil Rights, From the Soul

by Ernie McCray

Oh, I’m practically overflowing
with joy
having my name
living on in perpetuity
as a
University of Arizona
Basketball Ring of Honor honoree,
mostly for the reason that it highlights
just how far Tucson, my hometown,
has come
since my growing up days,
as I was the second Black basketball player
to perform at the U of A
and now there are

Black athletes
representing a range of ethnicities,
both men and women,
all over the place
with power and grace.

And, while in town,
I got around
to visiting
the African American Museum of Southern Arizona,
a sight I hadn’t yet seen,
and the exhibits,
filled me with pride,
just knowing that my people’s
contributions to the Grand Canyon State’s
rich history
is there for all to see.

I left the space

feeling so much

love for my race

and for all of humanity,

totally ready

for the festivities

awaiting me

the next day.

And the day after that,
Maria, my querida, and I
were taken out to dinner
to listen to
some soulful Latin Jazz
at an outside venue
at the old Hotel Congress,
something I wouldn’t have been able to do
earlier in my life in the Jim Crow
Old Pueblo

and that was playing in my mind

when I looked up at a mural on a building

slightly to the left of me

of a beautiful Latina

looking down on me,

representing, I found out from googling,

female empowerment

and leadership

and I realized,

as I looked into her eyes,

that I was breathing the fresh air of change

in a city

whose mayor is a woman of Mexican descent,

the first since the 1870’s,

when a Mexican American man

held such a position

of power and civic responsibility

when Arizona was still a territory.

And what this says to me
is that my hometown is what I’ve spent
a lifetime
wanting and wishing it to be:
a town that respects
its diversity,
something I’m glad I’ve lived to see
and experience personally,
and on the flight back to San Diego
I couldn’t hold back the glee
that filled the insides of me
because human progress
is a pleasing sight to see.

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Thomas L Gayton February 3, 2023 at 6:26 pm



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