Friday June 26, 2015 : A day I will remember always!
Today was a monumental day. I awakened to the news that the Supreme Court ruled that Gay Marriage is legal in all states. That a ban on same sex marriage by any state is unconstitutional . That brought a tear to my eyes! It was very long awaited by many, including me, but that was not the most important thing that happened today in my life.
I will need to go back a few years to tell this story. When I say a few years I mean 44! Forty Four years ago I lived in Harlan, Kentucky and went to Harlan High School. When I say Harlan High School I mean a school that housed grades 1-12 and had around 600 kids. The year was 1971. I was 13 years old and very interested in being a good girl. I went to church. I read the bible. And I believed that all people are children of God. To me that meant that all people are the same. That meant that it didn’t matter where you were from, who you love, what color your skin was…………we were children of God. We came here as pure positive energy. We stayed that way until something happened to perhaps disconnect us from Source/God/the Church or we were taught something that was not true from well-meaning but misguided adults.
In Harlan at that time it was considered normal for the black people to go to the black church and white people to go to the white church. Once, when the black church flooded, our minister invited the black people to our church. It was REALLY empty in church on Sunday.
My parents never talked about race in our house. They weren’t prejudiced in anyway. I never heard bad references about black people or an others but my parents weren’t the sort of folks to rock the boat in any way. Not bad people. Just not the nonconformist their daughter was about to become.
I met black people at school. I met them in the store my Dad managed. I met them at football games. Some kids had created an underground society where we were all the same. I also think it was due to the fact that many of the boys were in choir together and that bonded them as youngsters so thank you to the director of the choir. My first memories are of sneaking out at night, walking down an old mining road and meeting my friend Julie (another nonconformist!) Julie and I at times had BLACK boyfriends. My first LOVE was black! GASP!
As the years went buy I always fought for the underdog. Perhaps because I didn’t fight for my first love and I! As those things go it probably wouldn’t have mattered. I have no idea. Regardless…………. I went next to live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. NOT actually Chattanooga, We lived in Hixon. Our church was in Red Bank, Tennessee. Home of WHITE people. My Dad was transferred to Chattanooga. Again we joined a church. I was really excited about that church because the minister always talked about his black friends downtown. Our youth group went to see a Christian band on Lookout Mountain. They were Fabulous!!! We went back very excited and asked if they could come to our church. The church authorities said yes. We were thrilled. But we had left out one major fact. A fact that never occurred to us. The band was BLACK! Ooops! They wouldn’t let them come.
That was the end of formal religious worship for me. I read and read and read about so many things. I tried to learn everything I could. I decided that love is the answer. LOVE everyone. Black, white, gay, straight………….. good and bad. I loved them all. My Mother said I was always bringing home strays!
When Barack Obama first started making speeches I loved him. When he made the Red States Blue States speech I loved him. Then he was elected. I don’t have any problem with one thing he has done as President. I just wanted more. I wanted him to take on race. I wanted this country to become the country I saw in MY dreams. One Country Under God, Indivisible with Liberty and Justice for ALL. ALL. Every person living in this great nation with Liberty and Justice for ALL.
Today we took a couple of great steps toward that. Gay Marriage is legal. And today in a Eulogy that was given by President Barack Obama our Country is once again called to be the UNITED STATES. Not the White STATES or the BLACK STATES or the HISPANIC STATES…………….. the UNITED STATES of America.
I watched the Eulogy and cried. Then I called my dearest friend in the world – Bertha*. Bertha who knows EVERYTHING about me and EVERYTHING I have ever done in this world. Bertha, the one person I can trust ALWAYS because she is my friend. And she is Black. So perhaps I should have started this blog with: 44 years ago I met this girl in school. Her name was Bertha Henderson **. She IS BLACK. She is sweet. She is beautiful. She is smart. She is a college graduate and she makes this world better every day because she is in it!
Thank you Mr. President and thank you Supreme Court Justices. Most of all………….thank you Bertha for always being my friend.
* My husband thinks I need to mention that I called Bertha and we were on the exact same wavelength and when I called and Bertha picked up she immediately said “ARE YOU WATCHING THE EULOGY?”
** and I think I need to mention that my friend Bertha was in the first class that went to Harlan High School as an integrated school. It seems unimaginable that they would not let a sweet, smart, amazing person like Bertha to go to the same school as I did because her skin was a bit darker than mine!