Many years ago, in another life, I traveled for my job as a franchise consultant. One evening, in a Hampton Inn on the South side of Waco Texas, I sprawled across the bed with a vending machine bag of Famous Amos cookies in one hand and the remote control in the other. After a minute of surfing through the usual hotel TV fare, I landed on HBO hoping to find what would be my 19th viewing of the classic “Midnight Run” starring Robert De Niro.
Instead, I cringed as I realized that Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry Slam was on. Now this is usually instant change-the-channel material for a suburban WASPy guy like me, but something caught my ear that made me take another look.
The poet was a man named Mike Ellis, who it turned out, was born in Ethiopia (and now lives in Detroit). An activist and performer, he supports several orphan outreach and healthcare programs in Africa and helped to raise funds for HIV/AIDS Prevention Care and Support Organization (HAPSCO).
The poem I heard that night in Waco, is called “Mezeker Means to Remember” and it made a big impression on me. I share it now, so many years later, because a friend of mine, Karen Yates, writes an amazing blog called Finding Rest. Yesterday she posted an extraordinary piece about remembering. It jarred my memory of a man from Ethiopia who also asks us all to remember.