We spent Saturday setting up, hosting, and cleaning up a Pot Luck Picnic at Veterans’ Park here in Las Cruces. The purpose was to commemorate Race Unity Day, established in 1957 by the Baha’i Faith in the USA. There was only a small turn-out, but those who came were sincerely committed to establishing and promoting unity among the diverse peoples of our city. I learned some good things from them. The one that really stuck with me was a line that a life-long Las Cruces resident named Inez shared. We were talking about how it was up to us to teach our children and grandchildren to TEACH unity. It’s not enough to be prejudice-free. We need to teach that through action and show others how to teach it through action. Inez said that her grandmother used to say, regarding children, “It’s not what you leave (for) them, it’s what you leave IN them”. I sure do like that.
Although I was prepared to set up a P.A., the small crowd really didn’t need the amplification, so I did a few tunes “unplugged” as it were.
The crowd, being mostly older folks, kind of ran out of steam before the end of our third hour (98-degree heat) and so, we packed it up a bit early. After we returned home, I received a call from someone who had mentioned that his friend had gone to the park, but saw no one. I guess we should have waited a bit longer. The caller said they had read my letter to the editor and being veterans, had decided it was worth a visit. That was good to hear. Below is the text of the opening lines my letter:
“To the Editor:
As a veteran, I remember fondly the many people of different races with whom I served our country. Those Americans came from all backgrounds and circumstances. Their friendship helped me overcome the faulty training of “us and them” with the unifying reality of “oneness” that binds us all as humans. We are all of the one human race.”
It was followed of course by an invitation to all to join us in Veterans’ Park. Inez told me it was my letter that moved her to attend. I’m so glad she did. And it was delightful to meet Shirely from Las Cruces, and Pat who drove from Demming as well. And I want to thank our friend Kris for coming over to our house both before and after the picnic to help us load and unload the truck. I’m not as physically resilient as I once was.
Overall, it was a good experience and one that we will likely do again next year during the second weekend in June. There may be Race Unity Day observances that same weekend where you live. Check it out!
Darrell Elmer Rodgers
Singer, Songwriter, Performer, Humorist