Creating my journey

"I believe we can create our lives as works of art. I believe that we can make choices to right our lives
by rewriting our stories.
We have the power
to triumph over tragedy.
I did it and
so can you."

With my father, Ulysses Sr. One day I would testify against him and one day I would testify with him. Click the picture to see select video of our journey in the "Odyssey Theater."
Me with my mother Clarice. For years I craved revenge in her name.  My mother's desire was for me to forgive my father. Click the picture to see the video reflection "Clarice said be better"
A clip from the original police report made on June 25, 1978, the day my father shot my mother. Three decades after this incident, I traveled to Chicago to read the original court transcripts. Click the picture to show part of the testimony I gave at age 13.
In 1993, Essence Magazine published my article Sins of the Father. It was my first critical writing about my relationship with my father. Click the cover to read the article.
Decades would pass before I could find forgiveness. My path took me down the road of hatred. Click the cover and download the preview to "Dear Daddy, I hate you: letters to my mother's killer." Before he died, my father wrote the foreword to the second edition of the book.

Step I. Confront

I believe authentic confrontation was necessary in order for me to authentically forgive my father. Confronting didn't mean I knew the whole truth or the only truth; it meant I had a deep connection to a significant experience and I wanted him to hear, acknowledge and respect my connection. More important than his acknowledgement of my experience was my own self acknowledgement.  Here I list three crucial steps of my confronting - looking into - my soul.

Confront - Forgive - Reconcile
To Hate
Court Documents
Thoughts of killing you
Doctors predicted my sone Octavius would be born on my mother's birthday in 2005 and the revelation caused me many sleepless nights. I filmed and produced the video sketch "To Hate" as a way to express my anger for my father. The photo above is taken from that film. Click the picture to view a short clip.
On December 17, 2010 I traveled to the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago to look at the transcripts from the 1979 court proceedings related to my mother's death. Below is the cover to one of the case files I read.  Enraged by some of the information I discovered, two days later I traveled to my father's doorstep prepared to kill him.
The picture above was taken
circa 1980 during a visit to Menard Prison in Illinois. Even as a boy I could feel the emotional tension of losing my mother and smiling with my father who remarried shortly after her death. I felt betrayed by my father and started writing about my father and mother when I entered high school. 

Ulysses on Dr. Phil Show

"I believed if
the universe
could reveal a sun
in the heavens
above the earth each day,
then I can find
a way to sincerely, deeply
forgive my father."

Step II. Forgive

On June 25, 2011, - the 33rd anniversary of my mother's death - I traveled from Philadelphia to Chicago to visit my father. The picture on the left shows our first embrace in more than 20 years.

The picture below shows my father sitting at my mother's gravesite on that same day. Though I visited her gravesite often, I had no idea that my father had never been there. He didn't even know the location of the gravesite. This was his first and only time at the site. He died less than a year later. But not before meeting my children for the first and only time. In the lower left video segment - along with  my sons Khalil and Malcolm - my father and I prepare for our public presentation "Forgiving Our Fathers, Forgiving Ourselves."

Step III. Reconcile