We grew up in a segregated community, everything we needed was within walking distance, the church, the grocery store, the school, and all our friends. My father’s sister, Aunt Mary, lived three streets across the street, and next to her house was land the family owned, where we grew corn, sweet potatoes, greens, pumpkin, black-eyed peas, green beans (which we called beans), and other vegetables.
The neighborhood was still rural, so we raised pigs and chickens that we sold and put on the table. My maternal grandparents owned a farm in the country that was on the Alabama River, they grew cotton, cucumbers, corn, all kinds of fruit, everything that was not grown in municipal property, was grown in the country and we wanted Nothing.
Sunday mornings were special, with fried chicken, semolina and sauce and fresh homemade cookies, enjoying breakfast while listening to the radio, while Angelic Gospel singers sang “Touch Me, Lord Jesus.” Life was good.
My mother taught me to read and write in the backyard while I was washing my clothes, and she hung them on the line to dry, first a load and then another. I learned the alphabet and 123 by writing them on the ground. “Having Fun with Dick and Jane” was our reading primer, and when I was three, I learned to read, life was good.
But between my 3rd and 4you birthdays, I would learn that life is not good for us as a race of people. One late afternoon, a group of men in cars and pickups, dressed in white coats and with heads covered in white hoods and weapons, marched through our neighborhood.
Our parents tried to take us into the house, but we were not afraid, just fascinated, so we didn’t run away, we just stayed there. Dad called us into the house and explained who these men were. He explained that there were problems between blacks and whites in Montgomery and that the Clan wanted to be sure that the problem would not spread to Selma.
The lesson that followed this incident will be our first on how to survive as children of the civil rights movement. We have been taught that because we are Christians and because we follow the commandments of Jesus Christ, we must love all, but do not trust anyone unless you know them. These instructions changed my life forever.
A Child of the Civil Right Movement – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link A Child of the Civil Right Movement – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel