Remembering “ME” – Part 1

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“This is the first in a series of three articles, responding to

questions about my childhood and teenage years.”

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What was the first news event you remember?

A 12-year old latchkey kid, home alone on a very cold day in December, I was terrified after hearing this television announcement — “the world is coming to an end.” 

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I decided this was a real emergency; and, called Mama at work to warn her of this “pending disaster.”  Mama reprimanded me for breaking her #1 Rule, “not to call work unless it’s an emergency.”  She thought I made this story up so that she could come home early.  I never convinced Mama that I was telling the truth.

Fifty-eight years later with Wikipedia at my fingertips, I found proof …

“World Coming to An End

A Chicago area housewife, Dorothy Martin,

claimed to have received a message from a

fictional planet named Clarion.  These

messages revealed that the world would

end in a great flood before December 21, 1954.”

This time I was telling the truth.  However, there were other times when I made up stories best described by the fable, The Boy who Cried Wolf.”

What song makes you think of your teenage years?

I met Hubby when I was 12-years-old and visiting, over the summer, with my grandparents in Mississippi.  However, he insists we met when I visited his first grade class with a cousin.  I have no memory of this.

But, I do remember the summer of 1958.  I was a 15-year-old who discovered for the first time a “real and true love.”  This major life-changing event happened following a fun-filled evening at a local teenage dance.

Two popular records pulled us closer together; and, we both decided these were our “special songs.” 

  • Rockin Robin by Bobby Day, symbolically there was no relationship between the words of this tune and this “real and true love.”

“He rocks in the tree tops all day long

Hoppin’ and a-boppin’ and a-singing his song

All the little birds on Jaybird Street

Love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet..”

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This was the first record that we ever danced to.  We hit the floor, quickly adapting to the fast-paced rhythm; and, our steps were smooth, coordinated and effortless as if we had danced together for years.

  • For Your Love by Ed Townsend a slow-moving love song which did symbolize our “real and true” with lyrics like “For your love, I’d give you everything, and that’s for sure.  For your love.  I’d bring you diamond rings to your door….”

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At seventy-years-old, the lyrics and music are just nice memories of an earlier time.  But, at fifteen, every word and lyric reminded me of this newfound “real and true love.”

After fifty-three years of marriage, saying with confidence, Hubby is my first “real and true love.”

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired….

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I struggled with writing this post; but I had to speak out after the Travon Martin trial.

A young military wife, in 1963, with two toddlers, sitting in our cramped living room, watching the March on Washington, listening to Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech; and, realizing, his dream was the “dream” I wanted for my son and daughter.

I HAVE A DREAM that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true

meaning of its creed:  We hold these truths to be self-evident,

that all mean are created equal.

I HAVE A DREAM that my four little children will one day live in a

nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by

the content of their character.”

Back then, I was hopeful and optimistic that a change was gonna come.  Today, fifty years later, I am disappointed and pessimistic wondering how long is it gonna take.”

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired[1]of the racial injustices where people continue to be Judged by the Color of their Skin.”    

Emmett Till

I lived in FEAR throughout most of my teenage years.  Though, only 13-years-old, even today, I vividly recall the murder of Emmett Till on August 28, 1955.  He was a 14-year-old African-American male, from Chicago, visiting his grandfather in Mississippi.  Two white men decided to end Emmett’s life.  Why, because he either, whistled at, flirted with, or touched the hands, of a white cashier at a grocery store.

Brutally beaten, mutilated, shot in the head; his young body was tied up with barbed wired and dumped in the river.  Despite overwhelming evidence, on September 23, 1955 his two assailants were acquitted.   The Jim Crow Laws allowed Emmett to be “Judged by the Color His Skin.” 

With the exception of gender, Emmett’s life pretty much mirrored mine.  I, too, lived in Chicago and visited my grandparents in Mississippi every summer.   During those visits, they schooled me on what was acceptable behavior for a young black girl in Mississippi.  On the first day of my visit, they reminded me to “say yes mam, no mam, look down, speak quietly, never question or talk back to white folks.  They don’t play here you ain’t in Chicago.”

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Travon Martin

On February 26, 2011, this seventeen-year-old boy was shot and killed at about 7:00 p.m. while walking home on a rainy night in the gated community where he was visiting his father.   Killed because “HE WAS JUDGED BY THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN,” Mr. Zimmerman assumed an African-American male teenager, wearing a hoodie was a thug; and, therefore, a threat to him and others who lived in this gated community.

Loud voices cried out for justice and after some 45 days he was finally charged.  A jury trial resulted in a Not Guilty verdict.   Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, Mr. Zimmerman had the right to shoot rather than retreat.

As the grandmother of three young African American males, ranging in age from 13-24, I identify with what happened to Travon.  Living in a gated community, about 20 miles from where Travon was killed, we now have “safety guidelines” for our three grandsons to follow when they visit.  I am frustrated that my grandchildren are forced to deal with the FEAR of DEATH because someone

  • Chooses to  Judge by the Color of  Skin; and
  • Understands the protection afforded under the Stand Your Ground Laws.

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Like Jim Crow, Stand Your Ground Must Go

“I am sick and tired of being sick and tired”


[1] Fannie Lou Hamer, Civil Rights Activist