BY DR. LAVON WRIGHT BRACY, GUEST WRITER TO THE TIMES
ORLANDO – The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him- Proverbs 20:7
Randolph Bracy, Jr. grew up in humble beginnings in Jacksonville, Florida. He can talk to you for hours about his beloved Stanton High School, especially the band. If you ever have a conversation with him, he will tell you that the historic Stanton High School band was the best band in Florida back in his heyday. He has a genuine love for all sorts of music. Many people don’t know it, but he was also a concert pianist and played the piano from childhood until he went off to college at the tender age of 16. His wife LaVon Wright Bracy’s high school experience was not as favorable. She integrated Gainesville High in 1965 in the midst of extreme racial unrest and segregation in the State of Florida. It left her with many emotional scars that have taken decades to heal. She wrote an autobiographical children’s book, A Brave Little Cookie, so that she could be liberated from her trauma and so that no one else could add or take away from her story.
These two people with different experiences met and married in 1974 and moved to Jacksonville. They started their family in Jacksonville giving birth to their son Randy. Rev. Bracy was so proud to name his son Randolph Bracy, III to continue the legacy of his father, Randolph, Sr. After Randy was born, a bouncing baby girl came two years later. Mrs. Bracy decided to do just what her husband did a few years earlier. She named the daughter after her, LaVon. So, the Bracy household had two Randolphs and two LaVons.
The Bracy home was always filled with energy and much excitement. The Bracys’ moved to Philadelphia during exciting times when Philadelphia elected its first black Mayor. Mayor Wilson Goode also happened to be a member of the church that Rev. Bracy pastored. Randy and LaVon were young when this happened, but they were able to witness how politics worked and how a black man could win an election that he wasn’t favored to win. This political accomplishment would go on to be a great lesson for the both of them in their own future careers. During this time in Philadelphia, they saw how active their father was in the community and the importance of helping those who were in need.
After living 13 years in the north (Rochester, NY and Philadelphia, PA), the Bracys’ decided to return to their roots of Florida in 1991. The kids were in love with the big city and were not happy about making a transition to the Sunshine State. The move was a bumpy one, but they survived. After a turbulent beginning in returning to Florida, the Bracys’ decided to plant a church, the New Covenant Baptist Church of Orlando in 1992.
This experience allowed Randy and LaVon to visualize and understand the meaning of sacrifice, hard work, commitment and service. Randy and LaVon spent many hours listening to the vision God gave their dad and how the church would be a beacon light for the community God wanted him to serve. They experienced faith in action daily.
As the kids got acclimated to living in a hot climate, they began to appreciate the south and the public schools they attended. LaVon had an interest in the performing arts and Randy enjoyed playing basketball. Rev. Bracy had in his mind that LaVon would spend her career on Broadway as an actress and Randy would be an NBA player. Those were his predictions, but he always told the kids to follow their passion.
The parents demonstrated how important it was for them to enjoy and work hard at what it was that they wanted to be successful in doing. Each day Rev. Bracy and Mrs. Bracy would commit themselves to the vision that God gave them; the New Covenant Baptist Church of Orlando. Rev. Bracy believes that as a pastor, you must be active in the community. You must see what the needs of the people are and work to make sure the needs are met. As pastor he loved to serve and nourish his members.
As a father he reminded his children that “we are all placed on the earth to be a vessel of service to others”. He would always preach to them “that our time on earth is not about you. Every day it is an opportunity for you to impact the world in a positive way. The world ought to be better because you were here.”
Rev. Bracy has always been a champion for the marginalized and those who have been left out. He has always been one that will speak truth to power. He would go on to use his voice as president of the Orange County Branch of the NAACP to share his concerns for those who could not speak for themselves. He would always challenge public servants and politicians to do the right thing.
He never assumed his son that he had imagined as a professional basketball player and his daughter, an actress would become public servants as lawmakers. This allowed him to continue to repeat what they had heard all of their lives, “always do the right thing and put the people first.” They responded to the lessons that were learned. Randy served 10 years in the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate and LaVon is in her freshman year as a member of the Florida House of Representatives.
As a father, he is the spiritual compass for the family. He is such a great example for real fatherhood and love. We salute the patriarch of the Bracy family, Rev. Dr. Randolph Bracy, Jr.