Heather Oldham co-led a Be the Bridge group that wrapped up in 2017. The experience changed her perspective in many ways and she passionately shared everything she had learned with her Dad.
She started having conversations with him about her group, new things she had learned, and how she planned to move forward. Between the group experience and watching the riots in Baltimore City in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death, Heather was forever changed.
Her father, Ken Bancroft, grew up in residentially-segregated Baltimore in the 1950’s. He still lives in the Baltimore area and because of his daughter’s journey, he became interested in Be the Bridge himself.
An opportunity came for her father to see Latasha speak in Baltimore so he asked a friend to go with him. Hearing Tasha’s vision solidified the calling the men were sensing to form a Bridge group with other men from their church.
This was a big step for her father. “My dad had always worked in racially-diverse environments but he had few close friends who were people of color”, says Heather. “He had to start intentionally seeking and building relationships and he began praying about the men God might have him approach”.
John Bruce, one of Mr. Bancroft’s co-leaders along with Carl Bailey, also grew up in Baltimore as an African-American man in the 1950’s. As the group began meeting and the men began sharing, they discovered that although they lived close to each other growing up, their neighborhoods were racially segregated and separated by a bridge. Mr. Bancroft, Heather’s dad, lived in the white neighborhood and Mr. Bruce lived in the black neighborhood. Each of the men had memories of their parents telling them as children not to cross to the other side of the bridge.
And now, many years later as adults, these two men, no longer children, are sitting side-by-side in a group called Be the Bridge. They believe that only God could orchestrate such a meeting.
“My dad is 72 and he is someone who has never stopped learning. It’s never too late to come to the table. He remembers going to horse races with my grandfather and seeing signs for ‘colored bathrooms’. In humility, he has realized how much he didn’t know and hearing stories from the men of color in his group has really impacted him. It has been eye-opening and authentic friendships have formed,” Heather shares.
“I’m proud of my dad because he has used his influence for good throughout his life and he knows that you are never too old to stop learning and growing. Be the Bridge has bonded us. It is a continuation of our journey with God. And sharing our journeys with each other has deepened our relationship. I would get to pray with him before the Bridge meetings. It has been an amazing way for us to pray together and to see the Lord work.”
“I am also proud that my dad has owned the areas that he has been blind to over the years. We are both just thankful that the Lord has started to remove the scales from our eyes because of Be the Bridge”.
A beautiful tribute to a man who has led and taught me through the years. Both having strong spiritual conviction, our friendship has grown into a unique bond of support. Thank you Heather for mirroring his image! You have an amazing journey ahead.