Meet Me On The East Side

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By Leroy Barber

Executive Director, Neighborhood Economics

I recently visited San Antonio and had the honor of meeting community leaders and pastors doing some wonderful work in the city. I am thrilled to get to know so many people to prepare for our convening there in February. One of the groups I had the chance to connect with was a few of the black pastors on the Eastside of the city. 

I made the mistake of looking at my GPS and seeing it was a short walk to the restaurant where we were to meet. What I didn’t take into account was the temperature. I assumed it would still be somewhat cool at 8:30am. I was wrong. 

I arrived a few minutes late and a little sweaty. The pastors I hadn’t met yet began to laugh at me right. Right from the very beginning. It was embarrassing and comforting all at the same time as their humor was familiar and authentic. 

We had breakfast at a black-owned restaurant, Tony G’s, and the food was incredible. 

I did order grits, and when they came one pastor stopped as we were chatting and said, “I have to leave. He just put salt and pepper on his grits.” 

This  led to the debate over sugar vs salt on your grits. I was right at home. (I am also right about salt and butter on grits, although Paula sides with the sugar and butter crowd!)

These pastors then helped me learn more about them, their work, and their challenges. They are very active in issues of justice, and they care deeply for their city and the economic challenges the Eastside faces. They purposely asked me to come to breakfast at Tony G’s because it is in the shadows of what was the AT&T center where the Spurs play and what is now Frost Bank Center.  They welcomed me, taught, me and challenged me all in one breakfast meeting. 

I am eager for you to meet them and other leaders as we learn and are inspired by the story of San Antonio. Join us February 26-28 at a convening that is sure not to disappoint. We might even serve you Tony G’s grits, and you can salt or sugar them your way!