MEET ERICKA BRINDL BISHOP (RIKKITY)
The following is the text of a plaque that hangs on a wall in "Ericka's Room" in Morse College at Yale. It was written by Elissa Bishop-Becker.
Ericka Brindl Bishop
was born a child of the universe,
Ericka Brindl Bishop was born in New York City, the only child of a white mother and a black father. When she was 18 months old, she and her mother left her father, who was killed a year later. They went to live with her grandparents on Long Island, and her grandpa became a father to her. She was bright, beautiful, creative, and full of love, and she had a gift for bringing people together. She made many friends, whose ages ranged from infancy to adult. In 1980, when Ericka was five and a half years old, she and her mother moved to Roslyn. There they lived, alone and together, as mother and daughter, companions and friends.
Life was not always easy for her. Ericka was half black and half white. She was a Unitarian Universalist in a predominantly Jewish community. She was the child of a middle-class single parent in an environment where most of her friends had great wealth and two parents. She was different, and that taught her compassion for others who were different. Her tolerance and acceptance of people was truly and deeply felt--and acted upon. She was always there to help whoever needed or wanted it, and her family and friends relied on her generosity, understanding, wisdom, and hugs in times of stress and sorrow.
She grew into a healthy, self-confident, radiant young woman with the ability to love and help others and the desire to shape her world. During summers at Bucks Rock Arts Camp and Oxford she made friends from all over the world, and during school vacations she traveled on her own to visit them. She studied every language and culture she could. She believed that focusing on differences was destructive and that connections between people were of fundamental importance; and she lived that belief intuitively with an unconditional enjoyment, a graceful kindness, a delicious sense of humor, and an incredibly infectious laugh.
In 1992, her world was enlarged with a stepfather, who had known and loved Ericka for five years, and with two stepsisters, whom she had already known as friends. In June, 1993, Ericka graduated from Roslyn High School, and in the fall, Yale University became her new home. She loved Yale's history, traditions, people, and potential--and was loved in return. She felt blessed to have the opportunity to learn at one of the world's finest universities and to connect with some of the most talented and promising young people of our society; from everywhere in the world; and of every color, creed, and economic level. She spent her last summer as a Resident Counselor in the Yale Summer Program, counseling high school students from Turkey, Japan, and Switzerland; preparing to lead Freshperson Conference; and creating the yearbook for her sorority, Pi Beta Phi; until her life ended in a tragic automobile collision that was caused by a drunk driver.
Ericka's love for Yale and for Morse College was so strong that she became, for many who knew her, the very embodiment of the spirit of this place. It is fitting that she will always have a room here, for she will always be here in the memories and affections of her classmates, friends, and teachers. Her gentle and exuberant spirit will abide here, and her message will live within these walls and within the hearts of all who hear it:
You can make it if you focus on connections, not on differences.
Ericka's Photo Album
to a Rainbow
Last Update: 5/16/2013
Web Author: the Rev Dr Randolph and Elissa Bishop Becker, M.Ed., LPC, NCC
Copyright ©1999-2013 by the Rev Dr Randolph and Elissa Bishop Becker
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED