THE BLOG
10/21/2012 09:20 pm ET | Updated Feb 01, 2016

The Educator, The Healer- Conversation With S. Epatha Merkerson

"Aww come on mom, who's coming over to stay now? For how long this time?" is my son's response when I call to tell him to expect another guest in the house. For their entire lives, my children have seen people in and out of our homes. Some stay a couple of days, others a couple of months, some for years, and others are repeat guests in our home. Our home has become known as the rest spot for travelers, entertainment, and a haven for those who have fallen or hard times"

I'm not sure where that comes from, but I do recall growing up, my mother having the same sort of arrangements. Friends, family and guests were always in our home, so it only comes naturally for me to open my doors to others. When my children were younger, I guess they enjoyed it more because it allowed them the privilege of breaking routine and they got special treatment from our house guests. However, as they got older things changed. They wanted more privacy and they knew the change in household guest meant giving up something. They had to give of their time, do more chores, or change their sleeping arrangements. But in the end, they were always sad to see our guest leave because a bond had formed.

I take great pride in providing a safe environment for my children, where they are constantly learning, being exposed to new cultures, new ways of doing things; To see the common ground that we each share with others within the safety of their home. I also wanted to expose them to the art of giving, sharing of their material possessions willingly, and experiencing the joy it can bring.

One of my favorite movies has always been Lackawana Blues, with S. Epatha Merkerson. She plays an extraordinary woman who takes in countless people into her home, gives them shelter, and inevitably forms bonds with them. It's a story of the joy, sorrow, and the challenges we face internally, and the search for some form of belonging while being human. It is this character this legendary actress portrayed that made such a strong impression on me. From that moment on, I gained the most respect for her as an actress. I followed her in countless other movies, TV shows, and movies, like The Terminator, The Cosby Show, Law & Order, and Jacob's Ladder.

The Fair Hope Benevolent Society is an organization formed by freed slaves in 1888, to support the sick and the needy. They helped families bury their dead and built schools. Now celebrating its 124th year, this organization assists an estimated 70,000 people.

Merkerson has made her transition from acting to directing with a documentary about the Society. Along with her partner Rockwell Metcalf, whose 99 year old grandmother is a member of the Society, and the inspiration behind documentary, Merkerson shares this story. The film brings to light a piece of American History not well known to the masses. The film documents the purpose of the Society and what it has become today. For scheduling for the remainder of the year I invite you to visit, contradictionsoffairhope.com/screenings.html.

Merkerson tells us some of the challenges she had to face bringing the project to life, but she is no stranger to challenges. Her passion for teaching, preserving the positive Black history is honorable. Her legacy of being a nurturer continues to be seen on screen on her show "Find Our Missing", on TV One. The show documents the challenges that the black community continues to face when children go missing, the crimes committed to and against young black children that have gone unreported by mass media. This show is an eye opener and a rude awakening of how many unknown Trayvon Martins are out there. (tvone.tv/shows/find_our_missing.html)

Merkerson uses her success to empower others, to gift others with knowledge and freedom. The kind of power one implants in their children to be better human being; to be a positive contributor to society.

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