It was two years ago in New Orleans during the Bayou Classic – Grambling University vs. Southern University, two historically black colleges. For years, my parents had attended this game and the festivities that go along with it. It gave them an opportunity to visit their home state of Louisiana, which they both left separately right after World War II. Both my parents settled in the San Francisco Bay area where they met, married, and raised my brother, my sister, and me. As one might imagine, coming to San Francisco during that time was far better than living and working under the conditions of Jim Crow. To a great extent, San Francisco was not much better, though on the surface and to the outside observer, California was a thousand times better than living in Louisiana.
I received an invitation to sponsor a cocktail kick-off party in New Orleans during the Bayou Classic. It had been a couple of years since my mom had attended, and my father had passed away about five years prior, so for her, it wasn’t the same going without him. I invited her out from California to visit with me, have Thanksgiving dinner, and attend the Classic. I travel considerably for work, and with that comes some perks within the Marriott Hotel chain. With my wife’s blessing, Mom and I met in New Orleans and, with my frequent traveler points, stayed at the Ritz-Carleton in a very nice suite. At the hotel, there was a constant and steady amount of food and beverage selections, which for my 86-year-old mother was a delight. Each night I would accompany her and we would get a bit to eat and mingle and talk with other guests. She would hold court and I would sit back and quietly observe, something that is a real joy in my life.