February 22, 2023

The following is an interactive piece from Lance Jones, Summer Search's National Director of Marketing & Communications.

Lance Jones - Director of Marketing


I write to you from a farmhouse in Mount Vernon, State of Washington, U.S.A. Nestled in the bucolic Skagit Valley, Mount Vernon is home to 35,300 people and located an hour and change north of Seattle. Above my laptop screen, a large window displays falling snow dusting the backs of three horses, bums to the wind and nibbling at grass in a fenced pasture.  

A few miles to the east is downtown Mount Vernon, just five blocks long and three blocks wide. Those blocks run parallel and to the east of the Skagit River, which collects water from falling rain and snow in the Cascade Range, itself emerging from the ground 15-or-so minutes east of downtown. Launch a boat from downtown Mount Vernon and the river will schlep you west through the valley and miles of farmland to Skagit Bay. Course properly plotted, you’ll eventually hit Deception Pass and the Salish Sea. To your north, Canada. To your south, the United States. Keep heading west and you’ll say hello to the Pacific Ocean. 

You are probably more familiar with Atlanta (don’t you dare call it Hotlanta!), the capital city of Georgia with a metropolitan area home to 6.1 million people. Birthplace to Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta was burned down during the Civil War, served as a staging point for the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s, and went on to become a hub for Black, and later LGBTQ+, America. My own birth certificate would tell you that in 1983, I was born to Phyllis and David in a hospital a few miles north of downtown ATL. 

On the tail and ragged end of one Spring Break, my buddy James and I were arriving back to The A (admittedly, it was hella hot in Atlanta that day!) and working our way through miles of downtown traffic. Through our haze, we peeped a convertible Bentley. Behind the wheel was Antwan Patton aka "Big Boi" of OutKast fame rocking an Atlanta Braves New Era fitted and a pair of aviators. We shouted and laughed and waved like the schoolboys we were.  

Forehead devoid of even a single drop of sweat, he gave us a nod and chucked a deuce. Cooler than a polar bear's toenails… 

In the Lower 48, you can’t get much further apart than Mount Vernon and Atlanta, whether geographically, culturally, or demographically. 

Yet, on the northwestern edge of those five downtown Mount Vernon blocks in rural Washington, you’ll find Tri Dee Arts. The first time I dragged nervous feet and a quickly-beating heart across its threshold, my ear drums danced and my face relaxed. Twenty-plus years on from that Spring Break trip, I was greeted with OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean” and a sign that declared "Black Lives Matter." A quirky woman with wild hair and a piercing or two approached me. She smiled, welcomed me to the shop, and asked how she could help.  

This was but a moment amidst a wonderful and exhausting lifetime of being a Black man – you never know. 

Surviving in America while Black, whether yesterday or today, is no easy feat; thriving, a word modern-day America uses with vigor, is even harder. My family's history, Black History, American History, requires telling, yes. It requires reflection, yes. But, it also requires making 

So today, in our third week of Black History Month, I pledge to you, dear reader, that I will continue making history. It matters today. It will matter tomorrow. You matter always. 

I invite you to do the same. 

The above is an interactive piece I put together entitled, "Shh." Many thanks to Ursulina and Brendan for the encouragement. In discussing #BHM2023, the continued efforts by many to discredit, ignore, and erase Black History came to mind. 




At Summer Search, we celebrate the stories, identities, and cultures of our entire community. Every day.

We invite you, our community, to share your stories, thoughts, and voices via marcomms@summersearch.org.

Your submission will be eligible for the Second Annual Voices & Creators prize.

Voices & Celebrations in the Summer Search Orbit

* Did you know that Summer Search Bay Area alumnus Justin Bethune is the great-grandson of civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune? 

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