Be What You Is.....

Ernest Withers would have been 86 on August 7th. I spent much time with him and learned and saw many things. He was a stern taskmaster with a twinkle in his eye. A friend called us a couple of rascals and I guess that was apt. Before he passed last fall, he had asked me to speak at his funeral. He said, "I want people to say, 'who is that big devil up there.'" I responded, "That big white devil." To which he responded, "Devil ain't got no color." Right you were, Ernest. One of his many signature phrases was, "Be what you is and not what you ain't, cuz if you ain't what you is, you is what you ain't." Sometimes, he would slap me on the hand and say, "Boy, you paying attention to me?" Yes, Ernest, I was...and still do...I miss him so much I can't think straight sometimes.

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