Note: The following – celebrating Black History Month commemorating those who have influenced me most, and, who more than William John Abernathy (1911-1986) and Clara Lolita Roberts Abernathy (1915-2015), my father and my mother – posted initially on February 9, 2015, I share again with slight revisions.
The parent-child relationship is fertile ground. Capable of producing the grandest outward fruits of ethically-conscious, societally-contributing adults and the greatest inward frustrations of long-enduring complexes of guilt and shame and struggles of self-worth. So mixed is the legacy of my formative years.
I am grateful to my parents for the gift of my life. Each day, whether the best or the worst, I rejoice to be alive in this world.
I am grateful, too, for treasured lessons my parents taught me. Exposing me, from the beginning, to music and literature, history and science. Exhorting me to apply my gifts toward the development of an inquisitive mind. Sharing their witness of faith in God and the life of the church to form my soul in the likeness of Love’s virtue. Instilling in me a present consciousness of life’s inequities, rooted in discriminations based on color, not character. Thus, arming me with an awareness that I dare never assume that the world would be fair. Nevertheless, also encouraging my embrace of equality as a viable value to seek and to share.
Reflecting on my nearly 70 years, I, now, for long, see clearly what I, for so long, could not comprehend. I understand my father’s moodiness laced with bitterness in being denied opportunities because of his race. I understand my mother’s quiescent acceptance of life’s injustices. She was not possessed of the passionate temperament that compelled my grandmother and my aunt toward civic activism. Rather, embracing an inmost spirituality of an abiding trust that God somehow would provide, her profoundest belief was given voice in words like those of James Weldon Johnson:
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by Thy might led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray 
Home life with an angry father and an amenable mother daily simmered with a restless rancor. As my disposition was…is more akin to that of my grandmother and my aunt, I understand how, in my customary contesting against my father, I contributed mightily to our domestic dis-ease.
Still, I am grateful for this, my mixed, at times, mixed-up family life into which I was born. For from this mélange of light and shadow, quiet and tempest, goodly, godly counsel and furious passion, I was formed as a person of love and justice – one who lives to share active benevolence and fairness with all, unconditioned by differences of color, culture, or creed, and unconstrained even by my most heartfelt opinions and soul-deep prejudices.
© 2021 PRA
 From verse 3 of Lift Every Voice and Sing, often called The Black National Anthem; originally, a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), and then set to music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) in 1899.
Photograph: c. 1944