I was out having what I call, ‘a Stepheny kind of day,’ headed to the new relocated restaurant, Lillie May’s Kitchen. It is in the beautiful, restored space that began as the Washington Street Grill. Besides a good Philly cheese steak wrap, a friendly and welcoming owner,Vincent Jamal Wiggins, the same brick walls that make my heart happy, I received an unexpected blessing when Moe DeLoach sat down beside me. This bar stool was a fun perch to talk to an authentic, thoughtful, articulate, man who obviously has a moral compass that he follows. Michael “Moe” Deloach, Jr., was born and raised in South Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
After playing European basketball, he returned to Rocky Mount to give back to his community. I hope you’ve eaten at his restaurant, Moe and D’s., given a backpack to his outreach or have had a child enrolled in his basketball camps. Moe is a role model and champion for the youth of Rocky Mount with more he hopes to do.
It struck me after the conversation with Moe, that we have been picking up the wrong end of the stick. There is the endless wringing of hands over the doggy business and racial rattling of the City Council. The impact of their ‘My Will Be Done’ agenda continues to make everything hard. The usual suspect’s names are repeated every day in frustration and incredulity.
Picking up the wrong end of the stick involves some of the members on the City Council and within City management who filter everything through the lens of black victimization. They think an all-black businesses downtown is the way to avenge the past. I’m calling the right end of the stick the ‘Moe Generation,’ who RESPECT the past but know a future cannot be built along racial lines.
I am proud of this Moe generation. People like Zack Poll, Whit and Robert Barns, Terrick Pittman, Cortney Pope, Troy Davis, are but a few of the stakeholders downtown. I think of T.J. Walker, and his work in Ward #4. Many other young people of this ‘Moe generation’ are the names we need to repeat, respect, and encourage. Not only do they know right from wrong but while respecting the past they are focused on life TODAY. The Moe Generation is wise beyond their years to realize that it is TODAY that matters.
The ‘Moe Generation’ recognizes that those who foster the racial divide in Rocky Mount effectively hurt everyone’s prosperity. Unsafe neighborhoods, deteriorating housing, low incomes, and joblessness is the price Rocky Mount pays when Councilmen and their cronies want to control, by the color of a person’s skin, who is welcome and who is not.
We should rejoice and be glad in this ‘Moe Generation.’ They are the best hope we have to change the ‘MY WILL BE DONE’ agenda, which extracts a high price from so many in order to maintain power and outcomes that fit their world view. Racism is their default button when questioned or challenged. The ‘Moe Generation’ respects the past but seems determined to build a future that is a circle large enough for everyone to enter. Picking up the wrong end of the stick is about reaping the consequences of that choice. It is time for a change.
Lillie Mae’s Kitchen offers fresh seafood & southern fried favorites with a unique twist! Delicious southern specialties such as Deep Fried Lobster Tails, Triple Dipper Loaded Cheese Fries or crab legs and more. 119 Washington Street, Rocky Mount, NC
Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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