For me, one of the most positive rewards of American Counseling Association membership is the opportunity to network and develop relationships with other professional counselors. I am convinced that through the years, what I have received in friendships and communication has been worth every cent that I have spent on branch, division and ACA memberships. I would like to share with you one of these personal relationships that has been an integral part of my ACA experience.
In the turbulent sixties, I was attending a small college in Mississippi and had the advantage of attending a mock United Nations conference in St. Louis. During a “spin-out” session as a representative of Norway, the country my all-White institution selected to represent, I was seated next to a delegate from Nigeria, which was the country a small all-Black college from Tennessee was representing. After a while, I noticed with interest that the delegate from Nigeria had my name on all his material, so I asked him why. His response was very quick: “What do you mean your name? That is my name.” That was my first contact with Don C. Locke. We had a pleasant discussion about our names and then moved on from this brief encounter.
I went on to get my master’s degree in counseling, became a school counselor, joined ACA and then finished my doctorate. Looking for an ACA division that interested me, I joined the Student Personnel Association for Teacher Education, which was one of ACA’s original divisions. I received a call as a first-year professor asking if I would like to help with the selection of the programs for the annual conference that year. I jumped at the chance and enjoyed my assignment. Upon arriving in New Orleans, I went to the meeting called by Dr. Joe Hollis from Ball State University. It wasn’t long before he asked, “Where is Don Locke?” I raised my hand and Dr. Hollis said, “You’re not Don Locke. Don is a tall, slim Black guy who received his doctorate from Ball State.” That was probably the beginning of the tale of ACA’s two Don Lockes, and it is a journey that has lasted throughout our professional lives.
Don and I both became and have remained active in ACA, so our careers have intersected on many different occasions. We both accepted opportunities to serve in various capacities, which often resulted in our colleagues becoming confused about which Don Locke, as Don C. would say, “is the real Don Locke.” The result was that early on we became known as Don C. and Don W. The rationale was that Don C. was a man of color and Don W. was, as Don C. would say, “a bland White guy with no color whatsoever.” On one occasion when we followed each other with terms on the ACA Governing Council, I arrived at the meeting and could not find my seat location, which was always accompanied by a name card. After I asked where I should sit, someone realized an error had been made, quickly made a new name card and ushered me to the seat that had originally been labeled as reserved for “Don White.” Both Don C. and I could share numerous stories involving mixed-up hotel reservations, mistaken speaking invitations and incorrect materials, but space does not permit this.
What I do want to share is the utmost personal and professional respect that I have for Don C. I am proud to have been a part of ACA with him. We have been fortunate to become true brothers in our profession, and it is my hope that each of you will have a similar opportunity. One of my personal goals during this year is to live up to the expectations that Don C. would have for “us” as leaders in our association.