I have been a pilgrim...
If I think about it, I have been a pilgrim for most of my life. As a child we took the bus or drove cars down to North Carolina to visit our family there, and especially to visit our Aunt Cat (short for Catherine). We traveled a lot in high school as well, as our school was between two towns in Northfield, Massachusetts. Up and down Interstate 95 I would go to make it to the dance program I’d attended since kindergarten.
During college, Cuba became a big part of our lives. My brothers and Nefertiti went one year with the Venceremos Brigade. Nefertiti came back with taped interviews with Cuban youth and Kofi came back in love! (A rather common occurrence on Cuba-related trips.) The following years I would join Pastors for Peace and board a bus in Brooklyn with my snacks, luggage and music and wouldn’t get off until Hidalgo, Texas. In Texas, we unloaded the medical supplies and organized them for distribution in Cuba. Finally, we boarded the buses again and then headed through Mexico to reach the airport and loading dock that would take the supplies and the caravan to Cuba.
Hurricane Katrina brought us to New Orleans and to a new understanding and grasp of community organizing. New Orleans, though, is the impetus for this reflection. Three or four years ago, I had the strange idea of biking there. At the time, I did not think of it as an avenue to raise funds for a cause or even to spread awareness, per se. I just wanted to return to a place of sound, of musicality, of warmth, and yes, a place of organizing and activism. When Nefertiti and I lived there, biking was a big part of our day. The elder who we volunteered with, Bro. Jerome, would call our bikes, our horses. Up and down Claiborne Ave and Magazine St and N. Villere, all day.
If I think of life as travel, as a big and long journey, then I lift myself up from feeling fixed, in one place. Each day can become a zoom and a zag, and a moment for discovery. One day, I hope that this pilgrimage happens, that we tune up our bikes, load them with snacks, and books, and music and that we bike to NOLA. I hope that some of you can join me. I’m looking at you Taleigh Bicicleta!! and all the other bikers. This is part one of this reflection. Part Two is how we made it to Harriet Tubman’s home in Auburn, NY. One day, I hope that we can also make this journey together.