Sunday, June 21, 2009

Two Class Reunions, Two Reminders from Dad

It's Father's Day and when I made my "Happy Father's Day" call this morning to dad back home in Richmond, I was reminded of one of the most important things he and my mother taught us-- the importance of a good education.

Yesterday, my father, Joseph Daniels, 77, attended a high school reunion with classmates of Goochland County, Virginia's Central High School, a former segregated all-black school that later was converted to a middle school.

This morning he shared with me his story of being able to see the valedictorian from his Class of 1948 and one of his teachers who attended the reunion.

He talked about the fact that he and the valedictorian were two of only four from his class who attended the event, which celebrated those who graduated up until the high school merged with the all-white school in 1969.

A College Reunion in May

Saturday's reunion was the second such major class reunion for father, who is a 1959 graduate of Hampton Institute (now Hampton University). As is the custom every five years, Hampton held a reunion for those whose graduating class ended in "4" and "9."

Going to his 50th college reunion (He served several years in the army between high school and college) was a big deal. But, seeing high school classmates after more than a half-century, just made his weekend.

Education as a Family Tradition

I often reflect on how blessed my brother and I are to be THIRD-generation college students. In African-American families that is particularly rare. But my dad's mother, Kate F. Allen, always prominently displayed her degree from Virginia Union University in her home.

As kids, we would see that education was important for her (She was a teacher). And, she passed that on to my dad, who then passed it on to my brother and me.

Grandma never got a chance to see me get my terminal degree and become a college professor. But, I know she would be proud that the legacy continues.

Today, on Father's Day, my dad's sharing his class reunions with me just reinforces one of his most important lessons of life.

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