Anniversaries are time to reflect. Thus in 2014, I looked back on the three decades since I left Montserrat to come to America to attend Howard University. What is your immigrant story? Here’s mine.
On Dec. 27, 1984, I touched down aboard an American Airlines jet at JFK International. Outside, the ground was covered with snow; inside my head, thoughts raced. What now? What if? The uncertainty was never about success or failure. If I harbored any doubts, they were never about my ability; they were always about the how, when and where success would come.
I was heading for Howard University in Washington, D.C. My breast heaved with ambition and my head was full of untested ideas about life, love, work and the world. I wanted to be a journalist, I wanted to have my say about events beyond my control. It was fueled by the desire to have a life that mattered and not be merely a pawn, someone who waited for and witnessed events.
Looking back, I am struck at my conceit about success, by how naive I was about my privileged status as an international student on my way to be educated at an institution that has nurtured America’s black elite — Toni Morrison, Vernon Jordan, Thurgood Marshall, James Farmer.