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Joseph Cox holds a degree in Intellectual History from Univ. of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Financial Analysis.

He is the author of a number of books on related to policy. The City on the ... more

The Tapestry of Michael Jr.

Date: Monday, June 1, 2020 3:34 AM EDT

As the days past, I just kept weaving. I didn’t go out to buy food. Clarice got worried and her husband started bringing me meals. And he saw what I was doing. And a call went out, throughout the neighborhood. And more and more families sent their mothers and daughters, and fathers and sons. And they brought me meals. And they brought me yarn. And I kept weaving. I didn’t know what I was weaving. But I kept going. I tore out what didn’t feel right – what didn’t feel true. And I kept going. I kept weaving, for fifteen years. People around me had children and grandchildren. Time didn’t stop for anybody else. But it stopped for me, the day Michael Jr. died.

And that entire time, I never really looked at what I’d been doing.

Today, in that beat-up old church in Mantua, West Philly, my tapestry is hanging on their back wall. It’s been covered with a drop cloth. It was covered the entire time they brought it from my tiny apartment. And today, my community has gathered to see it unveiled. All around me are mothers and daughters and fathers and sons. They’re gathered to see what I’ve created.

With a flourish, the drop cloth is removed. And I, just like everybody else in the room, just stare at what hang’s before us. I don’t know how to describe what I’m seeing. Not in any way that would make sense. There are rivers of color rushing from here to there and back again. But I know that’s not what anybody is seeing. That’s not what I’m seeing. No, what I’m seeing is strands of thread, strands of life, connecting the past and the future. I’m seeing a patchwork history and a patchwork future, laid out in color and texture. I’m seeing my people, with their unknowable past and their murky future, cast up upon the wall for all to see.

I’m seeing the past, the present and future brought to life in the present. And as I stand there, I know ten years from now and twenty years from now and a hundred years from now, that this tapestry will carry on my work and my message. I know it will give us the history that has been taken from our people.

I have created a tapestry of my people; and a memorial to my son.

And in this place, this House of the Lord, G-d himself will smile upon us all.


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