This is one of the few pictures I have of my father and I together. It makes me laugh because I remember when it was taken. I was maybe 13 or 14 and I’d just gotten off work from my job at the main branch of the Memphis Public Library. (The shirt I have on has the MIFA logo on it; I was part of the organization’s “Teen Job Services” program and had to wear the shirt while at work.)
Instead of going home, I went to my father’s job, which was downtown. He was a civil engineer for the Memphis Corps of Engineers and worked in the Federal Building. He asked me to meet him after I’d gotten off work because the COE wanted to feature me in their company newsletter. I’d written a poem about a racially charged experience I had while biking around a (then) relatively all-white neighborhood, and the poem had gone on to win several awards, get published in a national literary magazine, and even earned me a Congressional commendation. Needless to say, my father was proud.