In three decades as a news reporter, I’ve seen hundreds of bullet-riddled bodies in Haiti and in the Middle East, and I’ve had friends and colleagues killed in both of those places. I lost my father to cancer.
But no death transformed me like the death last August of Clyde E. Murphy, my buddy from the Class of ’70, my brother in Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the best man at my wedding as I was at his. Clyde was the confidant with whom I shared deeply held feelings about life and death and–perhaps most of all–about being a black man in America.
Then, six months later, as I was making peace with the sudden loss of Clyde to a pulmonary embolism, word came that yet another brother who’d pledged Alpha with us, Ron Norwood ’70, had succumbed to cancer. A few weeks after that we learned that Jeff Palmer ’70, another black classmate, had passed, also from cancer.