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Something to Think About: The Reason I Enjoyed the Clarissa St. Reunion

Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn

 

michael_vaughn2I would like to share the good time my wife and I had at the 20th Anniversary of the Clarissa St. Reunion, in my column this week. In all of the time I have been in Rochester, this year was the first year I had gone to the reunion. And, while the fact that the company I was with was great, my wife and my BFF, I also enjoyed the reunion.

In my opinion, it’s an event like this which shows the very positive contribution the African-American community has to offer to the broader community.

The day was beautiful, and, it was equally beautiful to see all the people who were in attendance at the event. While the reunion, indeed, had been open to the entire population, the overwhelming majority of people I saw there were African-American. But, that was not the only special part. These African-Americans were of all ages; from various social and educational backgrounds; men and women; etc. With this large number of African-Americans gathered in one place, there may have been some in our society who would have expected there to be problems. And, oftentimes, there are a minority of African-Americans who have not disappointed them.

But, while I cannot speak for the entire day, I can speak for the time I was there. There was a sense of safety, as my wife and I strolled along the street, and I did not see any fights break out (one skirmish wanted to get started, but it was diffused very quickly). There was a very visible sense of security and police presence, which may also have contributed to that experience. However, I would also like to think that, what contributed to the peaceful, enjoyable, and safe atmosphere, were the people involved with hosting the reunion, as well as those who were in attendance.

I point this out because, I believe that, if the majority of people (who usually are peaceful) were to exercise their wills in other venues, such as Charlotte Beach, they would likely obtain the same results. Everyone knows there are only a handful of people who like to bring their issues to a crowded place, and then; there’s another group of people who like to encourage violent behavior. However, if we, who have come to these events, demand peace; we will marginalize those who want to ruin that peaceful, enjoyable time. And, those who may be bent on violence will ultimately leave.

During the reunion, my wife and I saw the practice of capitalism at its best. From those who were selling food and clothes, to jewelry  and pottery, etc., this was a picture of what Americans, and, specifically, African-Americans, represent. They showed their true sense of themselves, by bringing their unique gifts and talents together, and sharing them with the community walking through Clarissa St.

As African-Americans, we have to allow events like this to define who we are, and not allow the media, and a small percentage of other African-Americans, to give us a bad name. This was a large effort, and I’m sure many, many people spent countless hours organizing (and praying for great weather), to pull together, and deliver it to the Rochester community. In an event of this magnitude, there are bound to be differences of opinions, when it comes to how things are supposed to go, and when things are supposed to happen, etc. However, the face this group presented to the community was one of peace, and unity. This is an example others can learn from and follow.

As I have often said, African-Americans are a strong people, who are capable of doing extraordinary things. Our history proves it. We should not be defined by a few rouge individuals (percentage-wise), who have wanted to display their anger, or even weakness before cameras, to get attention. The majority of African-Americans are people who work hard, and have goals and dreams for themselves, and their children. This is how we should be defined. Thank you, Clarissa St. Reunion Organizing Committee; the vendors; the volunteers; the police officers; the security officers; the residents of Clarissa St.; and all of the visitors who attended, for providing a good example of what can be done when we work together!

If you would like to contact me, please email me at mvaughn.seniorpastor@newwineskin.org