A very good and long time friend of mine asked me to go to her high school reunion recently. She grew up in a small town and her class only had 93 graduates. Knowing that only a small percentage of the alumni would show up, the organizers invited the graduating classes from 1977 through 1987. There were about 15 to 20 students from each class along with their dates or spouses.
It was a great people watching venue. Not knowing any of her classmates my imagination was running wild as I saw people who were genuinely happy to see old classmates. On the other end of the spectrum, there were others who looked like feral cats… the circumstances of life having put them in survival mode over the years. They leaned against the wall in the shadows of the room just watching. It’s amazing what 20 years of living will do to us, right.
Something I noticed that really struck me though was the way the black alumni from this small town high school were treated during the reunion.
It was overwhelming to see their fellow white classmates who they hadn’t seen in 20 or 30 years embrace them throughout the evening. Genuine, strong, deep hugs… looking at each other eye to eye… smiling, laughing, reminiscing and then embracing again… men and women alike.
They danced… and sang… and held hands… and remembered more care free days.
I wonder what the 20 year reunion of the students at Jena High will be like.
The Jena High school song
photo by Brent Stirton, Getty Images