Monday, March 24, 2008

The Real Easter Parade

#376 The Real Easter Parade

Getting cross town on 125th Street is always an iffy proposition. More so on Sundays than weekdays, because while there are fewer cars, there are fewer experienced drivers and a lot of them have Jersey plates, which could mean they don't know quite where they're going and therefore don't know which lane to block. On Easter Sunday, it's even worse, because everyone comes in from everywhere. And this year, with the temperature near 50 and the sun in the sky, it was especially inviting, though it still would have been crowded in a snowstorm.

The Big Churches of Harlem are mostly not on 125th Street. The Abyssinian Baptist Church, which is among the biggest, and arguably the most influential is on 138th. The Riverside's on Riverside. But along 125th Street, there's something of a church on pretty much every block. And if you thought attendance was falling, this is the place to disprove it.

Cross town traffic be damned. The double parking starts about 7:30 in the morning (earlier --- much earlier --- on Easter Sunday,) and lasts well into the late afternoon. On some blocks, it's triple parking. And we're talking nice cars, here. After all, the poor either walk or take the subway or the bus. So do the smart, come to think of it.

Some of these places give you little snippets of Jeremiah Wright-Light. But most of them don't, because that's not what the Ladies In Hats come to hear.

There is a firebrand tradition in the African-American Protestant church. And the Ladies in Hats know and expect and welcome it. But if you ask them, they'll tell you they don't come to church to find hate, that there's well enough of that in the land without having to hear it on a Sunday morning, an Easter Sunday morning at that. Firebrand for something good. Firebrand for Jesus. But don't firebrand about hatred.

I don't know how it is in Chicago, where Wright hung out. But in New York, the black churches have real power and the power behind that power is The Hat.

So you get these storefront churches up and down the block, and the parking which gives the word "block" a whole new meaning.

Luke Jordan has a nice condo in New Haven. He's a banker. On Easter Sunday, he goes down to Elmhurst and picks up Mama and takes her to church in Manhattan, on 125th between Broadway and Amsterdam. And Luke makes sure that Lexus shines. Because if it doesn't, she won't get in. He really didn't want that SUV. But he bought it instead of the Nissan Z because Mama and The Hat fit in without her having to step up or bend over or take The Hat off. He does it on Christmas, too.

The real Easter Parade is on 125th Street, not Fifth Avenue. And it happens every Sunday.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2008

1 comment:

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