Cynique Posted February 11, 2011 Report Share Posted February 11, 2011 February is Black History month, and I feel fortunate that my repository of memories makes my brain comparable to an organic history book, chapters of which I want to share. Being the proud great-granddaughter of freed-slaves I've decided to pull rank and briefly assume the role of a griot. I beg your indulgence. I confess to also taking pride in the fact that Prohibition was repealed the same year I was born, making it possible for people to legally drown their sorrows in booze as both me and the Great Depression came into being. Since then just what have I lived through, that most of you haven’t? Read on. Starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt, and ending with Barack Obama, I have been around during the election of 12 presidents, along with the resignation of one, namely Richard M. Nixon. I was here when “colored” folks morphed into “negroes”, - was around when black hair care products were limited to hot iron straightening combs and pressing oils. I’ve observed black names like Bertha and Ruby and Willa Mae and Annie give way to the ones like Carole and Linda and Sandra and Denise. (Never mind what came after these lovely appellations ) I listened to all of heavyweight champion Joe Louis’ fights on the radio, cheering him on as he made quick work of his opponents. When they were still the BROOKLYN Dodgers, I saw their star second baseman and first black major league player, Jackie Robinson, play against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Beginning with World War II, - at which time I hoped for the safe return of my brother who served in the Navy on the first Destroyer Escort to be manned by an all-black crew, - I was on the home front as Americans fought in 7 major wars, including the conflict in Korea where black and white soldiers served in the same units together for the first time. As a teenager whose first summer job was that of a key-puncher hired to encode cards for programmers, I have seen computers evolve from huge room-sized machines to sleek lap-top models and hand held smart phones. I attended the University of Illinois when the presence of the Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta sorority houses, and the Kappa Alpha Psi and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity ones made this campus the only one in the entire country to have black Greek residences. Beginning with the arrest of defiant back-of-the-bus rider, Rosa Parks and murdered Emmitt Till, whose mutilated body I stood in a loooooong line to gawk at, and peaking with my viewing on TV the live deliverance of the “I have a dream” speech by MLK, I have tagged along as the Civil Rights Movement marched forward to break down racial barriers. When not watching "remote-less" black and white television, I frequently patronized the palatial movie houses that once lit up Chicago’s down town area where stage shows shared the marquee with the latest motion pictures, and where I would be in the audience when artists like Nat Cole and Ella Fitzgerald appeared in person. I went on dates to jazz clubs to hear legendary musicians such as Oscar Peterson and I once saw a very spaced-out Charlie Parker struggle through a bebop solo. I was immersed in the times as the "beatnik" generation morphed into the hippie counter-culture which aitated change to society, ushering in the peace movement birthed by the Viet Nam war which i marched against. During the same era, I raised a fist as a sympathizer with the black power movement. With the attack on India's prime minister Mohandas Gandhi, I first experienced shock over 7 other political assassinations, including those of Martin Luther King who was a disciple of Gandhi’s passive resistance philosophy, Malcolm X, and Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, my Maywood, Illinois, home town hero, who was shot down in his bed by a squad of “Chicago’s finest“. Along the way, I saw my name become a by-line when the “Chicago Today” newspaper, prodded by my provocative "letters-to-the-editor", hired me to write a regular column on the ambiguous black experience. During my years of employment at a postal sub-station, I observed as blacks ascended to positions of authority and wielded unbridled power while become big fish in a small pond. And so it went…These are just some of the past events and changes that I have co-existed with. To you, they may be yawners. To me, they are memories. Some happy, some sad. But, - that’s life. Thanks for reading this. Time to go. I’m history! 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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