I was born Nov. 26, 1931 and celebrated my 80th birthday Nov. 26, 2011. It was a celebration that my three daughters, Toni, Kim and Jerri put together with the assistance of my granddaughter, Tamarae, who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Upon walking into the facility you could have knocked me down with a feather. It was almost like a family reunion because all of my cousins, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were in attendance. They came from Pittsburgh, Ohio, New Jersey, Detroit and Tennessee and we had never been together before—even at a funeral. In fact, my niece from Jackson, Tenn., reminded me that in one of my previous columns, where I had written about how proud my father—her great-grandfather—would have been if he had lived to see how many of the family had adhered to his mandate “go to college,” I had mentioned every family member’s name who graduated but hers. I will correct that oversight in this week’s column by adding Justine Dugger, who graduated from the University of Memphis.

My daughters informed me that they sent out 156 invitations and received 150 RSVPs, and 144 people came to enjoy the festive occasion. Some people had legitimate reasons for not coming such as illness and going out of town.

I can’t recall the last time I had a birthday party, because generally we have been in New Jersey at my daughter’s and we celebrate Thanksgiving and eat ice cream and cake.

It was an overwhelming feeling to be surrounded by so many people that you have known from childhood to manhood. Mention was made of the fact that my front plate on my card reads “A Man Stands” and my favored song is “Stand” and as it was being played at the conclusion it bought tears to my eyes, because I clearly understand that there are not enough Black men willing to stand up, speak up and if the situation demands it—act up.

To those of you who were there I can’t say thanks loudly or frequently enough. To those of you, who did not attend, I assure you that on my 90th birthday, you will.

Please remember Kingsley Association.

(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)

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