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Rev. Traci Blackmon

St. Louis, MO

I am a child of the ‘60s and I was born in Birmingham, Alabama so I was born in what many consider the height of the Civil Rights Movement in a city that was intricate to the Civil Rights Movement. As a child, I don’t remember recognizing those divides because my parents worked hard to shelter that from me. But as I got older, I integrated a couple of schools so I experienced a divide a there. I went to schools that were far away from the neighborhood that I lived in, even though I lived in a nice neighborhood. But the neighborhood was segregated. I now know that it was segregated. As a child, it just felt very comfortable and very much at home. So, I don’t remember a time probably that my life would not have been impacted by those racial divides, economic divides, educational divides. Something that always stuck out with me was when I first changed schools and went from an all-black classroom to an all-white classroom. I was in fourth grade and the first day of class, I received my assignment for a term paper. I had no knowledge of even what a term paper was before that day. Going back into a neighborhood that was all black, even though I was educated in a school that was predominately white and knowing that my friends and my neighborhood didn’t have any knowledge of what a term paper was in fourth grade, was probably my first awakening to the fact that something is different here. I was fortunate all my life to feel great love—great love from my family, great love from my community, and, for the most part, great love even in the schools that I integrated. There were a couple of incidents and issues, but nothing as traumatic as those who stood before me had endured. There’s always been that presence in my life and consciousness of it came very early.


Awesome. Second question: What do you do now to bridge those divides?

Tracy Blackmon:

I try to listen. I think listening is underestimated. I try to listen to people’s hearts and to their stories. I search for the God in everybody that I see, even the people I don’t understand, the people that look differently from me. I believe in the divine presence of God in every human being and I try very hard—I’m not always successful and I’m sure everyone is not successful in seeing it in me all the time—but I try very hard to look for the God in everybody. I think that that’s our common denominator. I stand up for justice because I believe that’s what we are called to do. Mostly, I look for God.