Kente Cloth

I live on Manhattan’s upper eastside,  across from Gracie Mansion,  the beautiful 1799  Federal-style house that overlooks the East River and is the residence of New York’s mayor and his family.

On any given day I may see cops,  TV cameras,  and angry protesters in front of the Mansion,  or buses discharging tourists, or dignitaries arriving in limos.

And just as often I may see happy crowds, dressed in their finery and leaving the Mansion after a gala event.   One evening some months ago it was the latter.

As I was walking home I saw dozens of people spilling out of the Mansion,   many in beautiful African garb – women in caftans with matching head wraps and scarfs,  and men in colorful tunics and shirts and kufis.

Our city has the largest African community in the nation,   and I remembered this was the night the mayor had hosted an African Heritage Reception for 1,000 men and women from over 50 countries.

The crowd was jubilant,  laughing and talking,  and I couldn’t help stopping one young man as he walked by.

“How was the reception?”,   I asked him.

“It was marvelous!”,  he said,  “There were people from so many countries,  and inspiring speakers,  and great music,  and excellent food – you must come yourself next year!”

“Thank you,”   I said,  “but I’m not African.”

“That’s no  matter,”   he said,  “it’s such a wonderful event,  you’d be most welcome!”

Did I tell you I ❤️ New York?

Dana Susan Lehrman


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