According to a popular book a person learns everything he or she really needs to know in kindergarten. I had to wait until the first grade to learn one of the most important lessons of all.
Three weeks into my first grade school year, my family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. My dad, who was in the U. S. Navy had been transferred to the south shore of the Mississippi River. I was enrolled in the Adolf Meyer elementary school. It was a big inner city school with hundreds of students. In that school, I was the minority. I don't remember there being another white student in my class.
What did I learn during that school year? Other than the color of my skin, I was not that different from the hundreds of other kids in that school. We all ate the same food in the cafeteria. We all studied the same subjects. We all played the same games at recess. We all laughed at the same jokes. We all cried when we fell and scraped our knees. We all had families who loved us.
I remember some awkward moments, especially at the first of the year as I was trying to fit in. But my final memory of Adolf Meyer reinforces the great lesson I learned. On the final day of the school year an awards ceremony was held. I was presented with a small trophy; for what, I do not remember. But I still remember walking up to the principal and accepting my trophy amidst the applause of my classmates. They were cheering for me . . . the white boy. And I cheered for them, as well, when they were called to the stage.
What lesson did I learn in New Orleans? I learned that truth that we must all know: color is only skin deep. Our planet is filled with a rich diversity of peoples, heritages, cultures, and races. Deep down, though, we are all human beings with a soul. We are all creatures shaped and loved by God?