My father was an intense, short, brown-skinned man with an unassuming mustache and glasses. When I think of him in his quiet moments, he is alone, sitting at his desk, surrounded by his books. His time and attention, precious things--he spent very little time on the phone, for example--he is reading, always reading, highlighting, and underlining sentences in one book of many about the beginnings of the early civilizations of the Nile Valley. He devoted much of his life to gathering books, tapes, and films about this topic.
When he spoke, regardless of the subject, it was often with a finality that left little room for debate about any of truths he was espousing, all of which he believed in with every molecule of his being. And yet, nothing excited him more than the chance for a hearty historical debate where he was able to prove his points. At the scent of such an opportunity, like a fire slowly burning, his face would gently relax into that knowing smile of his. He would relish the moment, like the spider in the sentence he uttered many times to me when I grew old enough to step into the intellectual arena with him: "Come into my web, said the spider to the fly".
More than anything else, however, he wanted to share with those of African descent his "insatiable thirst for knowledge" as he called it, and to provide them with the armor they needed to survive the lies they had been told about who they were as a people. I hope to continue his legacy, as now his extensive library has been passed on to me.
To that end, in his honor, I begin a new feature today, From Daddy's Shelf, in which I will highlight books and films of particular interest from his collection. Thanks to you, Dad, your knowledge lives on. There is so much to learn....