How ironic. On the day residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts gathered to commemorate the nation’s first fight for freedom we were reminded of just how precious freedom is. Patriot’s Day. A rite of spring in a bold city on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Tragedy?
Monday’s events reminded me of remarks made at a Memorial Day Observation cited in Novofemina’s Camouflage transition & summer plans. ‘Live’ the speaker intoned, for ‘our fallen heroes had sacrificed it all to give us that chance.’ The gentleman was a Navy reservist: pressed whites, well spoke, a selectman. Live.
Like many I am deeply saddened by the events of last Monday. But emboldened at the same time. Maybe you join me in frustration over the media’s constant fueling of fear or rage or disbelief. Live is really the only necessary summary. Don’t waste it. Reach. Dream.
“You really do have the ability to do a lot more than either you’ve been told or you’ve been led to believe by your surroundings,” said Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock Nine (Freedom’s Children, Levine, 1993, 49). This inspiring group of nine African-American teenagers faced a city of belligerent white segregationists to attend the all white Central High School in 1957. They simply dreamed of a good education and what that might bring.
I stumbled on the quote as part of an assignment for the pen pal program with students at the James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury, MA. For those unfamiliar with the City of Boston, Roxbury is a neighborhood touched by random gun violence and decades of declining employment. Violence and tragedy are a common undercurrent in this zip code, a mere 2 miles from the site of Monday’s bombs.
Our assignment together with our pen pals was to read Freedom’s Children, a collection of personal accounts by thirty children and teenagers who grew up amidst the civil rights movement in the late 50’s and 1960’s. Author Ellen Levine interviewed adults whose childhood memories included deciphering exclusions. Whites only. Colored. “Although beatings, arrests, and death were an intrinsic part of the story of the movement, these are not tales of sadness and despair. To the contrary, the young people in these pages speak of pride, a confidence, a joy of being part of something.” (Freedom’s Children, Levine, 1993, xii)
As pen pals we were instructed to use the book to initiate conversations. Talk about finding one’s voice.
What of your own voice in transition? Raise it. Dream. Fly. Live. Chose to be a part of something.
I’m reminded in reviewing data from the Research Jam of how hard it is sometimes to walk against tragedy or the unexpected. Women often retreat or escape or detour widely. Let’s use the Patriot’s Day events to remind us to step forward on a path into the fullness of who we are. Step lively!
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