Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I Remember 1963
I just read a great book I would like to recommend. It was called The Help. Sorry I don't remember the author and Ive already returned it to the library. It's set in Jackson Mississippi 1963. The book is written from the perspective of three different women. Two are black maids. The other, a young white woman who made the awful mistake of leaving O'l Miss with a degree instead of a husband. I have never been a Feminist, but after reading this book, that may have been because I was too young to know it was bad when it was bad.
It's shocking to read what these women went through. And the lies people told to keep them down.
My mother and I rode a bus to Washington DC in November of 1963. Just the week before, I was sitting in my first grade class room, when my teacher tearfully announced, President Kennedy had been shot. We were being dismissed from school to be with our families. We were all so sad, but our parents were frightened. We didn't know about all the civil unrest in the country. Hey, that was life before 24 hour cable news.
Anyway, the trip to Washington had been planned for sometime before all of this, because my sister was getting an artificial heart valve courtesy of the U S Army. She was one of the first, if not the first to receive a new heart valve, and it was being done at Walter Reed hospital.
Our trip began after dinner on Thanksgiving day. We rode the bus for two days and nights, down through the deep south and up to the east coast, all the way to Virginia. I was young but I did notice people and their rules changed from state to state. I remember a pretty young black women who sat with us and talked until we crossed into, let's just say, one of the more southern states. Right on cue, she took her place at the back of the bus and didn't make eye contact again. Another time, I woke up to shouting and cursing. The bus stopped and the police were there waiting to take someone away.
I didn't have any idea what was going on around me. Honestly in 1963 I had not seen very many black people in person. It's hard to believe so much has changed in such a short time but our lives are better for it. Think what you would have missed.
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