As I held him for the very first time, I looked into his eyes awash with emotions. My son! Was this true? Was I holding in my arms my son? I had dreamed of this moment for as long as I could remember, and I knew that nothing would ever be the same. My life, the choices I’d make were no longer for me. From this moment on, every decision I would make would be made with this beautiful young child I held in my arms in mind in mind, and I would have it no other way. I would go to war to protect this child; I would let no one or nothing hurt him physically, mentally, or spiritually. Despite my happiness, there was still a small part of me that wondered was it fair to bring him into this world. A world that will not look upon his beautiful bronze skin for the magnificence It represented. Instead, they will look at it as a threat. He will be a target, and each day he leaves the house, I will have to worry if he will return. He will have to work twice as hard to be considered an equal of those less talented than him. They will question him at every step. Was it fair to bring such innocence, such beauty into such an ugly world? Was it selfish on my part? Will I be able to protect my son? These are the thoughts that run through my mind in what should be a moment of unbridled joy. Sadly is the reality of being a black man in America
As Father’s Day draws to a close I look back on this picture. I am too young to have any memories of this moment but as I look upon it I feel the love that my father always had for me as he holds me in his arms. Protecting me from danger as he would do until the day he left this earth. Now years after his going home to be with the Lord I can still feel myself being protected by him as if I was still being carried in his arms. I still feel his love and while I miss him every day I have no doubt that whenever the need arises in my life he is there for me spiritually. Guiding me and protecting me.
Reposting in honor of my hero, my dad and one of the fondest memories I have of us.
Saturday morning October 1, 1977 the sky is not blue in fact it’s very very grey and the rain has already started to fall. 11 year old Carl looked out the window sadden, after all today was the day he was supposed to go to the big ballpark in the Bronx to see his favorite team the New York Yankees clinch the American League East. But my dad was not about to let a little rain ruin his son’s day. Let’s go he said and we headed out. We waited for the BX55 to 161st Street in the rain and while we waited and again on the ride my dad assured me that a little rain wasn’t going to ruin our day. We got to the Stadium and the tarp was still on the field. The thought that they would play a game was looking bleaker and bleaker. But then my dad said look at the scoreboard. Suddenly thousands of rain soaked fans were mesmerized by the scoreboard. Baltimore was playing Boston and if Baltimore won the Yankees clinched. It was starting to rain harder and my dad could easily have said we’re going home but he didn’t instead he said look at the dot (indicating which team was batting) it’s been on Baltimore for a while, they must be having a big inning (this is how we did it before smart phones) and when the scoreboard confirmed just that we would smile at each other and high five. Baltimore would eventually win 8-7 and the Yankees were AL East champions. My dad and I sat in the rain bonding over scoreboard updates and celebrating the Yankee winning the division without the Yankees ever taking the field. They eventually played the game, Yanks lost 10-7 to the Tigers, we were long gone by then but it didn’t matter because little 11 year old Carl was as happy as can be. My dad had assured me a little rain wasn’t going to ruin our day and he was right, he made sure of it. That why he was my dad!
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY CHARLES W. COOKE YOU WERE THE BEST!
For the last 57 days on my Facebook page I have posted the bios of distinguished men of color as a way to counterbalance the negative imagery portrayed in both regular and social media of minority males. I call my campaign “Who You Are and Who You Can Be. Controlling the narrative and defining ourself” Today’s spotlighted is very personal to me in that it’s my dad and well he was supercool so I decided to share it here.
Charles W. Cooke was born March 4, 1913 in the segregated south upon his graduation from high school he moved north to New York City in search of a better life. Blessed with a keen sense of entrepreneurship Mr. Cooke started three successful businesses a newsstand, the selling of leather goods and a lunch counter style diner.
Mr. Cooke and his wife of 49 years Francis Cooke (married on March 4th as well) were well known in their community as their door was always open to family and friends. Mr. Cooke was also known for his willingness to assist those in need and dispense wisdom and advice to the neighborhood youth.
At the age of 53 and having already raised two daughters Mr. Cooke once again showed everyone what kind of special man he was by adopting a new born child. That child could at times be a handful as he was known to throw a temper tantrum or two but Mr. Cooke never wavered in his love for that child treating him like his own flesh and blood. Mr. Cooke instilled in the young boy the importance of education, respect for women and imparted the moral values which he lived by. That young boy went on to graduate college and have a successful career in government and the world of not for profits and has lived his life by the moral code in which he was raised. I know all of this because that young boy is me.
After 33 years of service to the NYCTA Mr. Cooke retired but he remained active in the community and was a key person in the conversion of a block long empty lot into The Farm in the Bronx. A vibrant community garden that in collaboration with Cornell University produced tons of fruits and vegetables each year for the community. His work was recognized when the City of New York officially renamed the garden the Charles W. Cooke Farm.
It has been 27 years since Mr. Cooke has left this Earth but his spirit lives on in the many lives he touched and influenced including this sorta young man. So let me be one of the many to wish Charles W. Cooke, my dad, a very happy birthday!!