Posts filed under: ‘Sixth Grace United Presbyterian Church Chicago‘
Well, it is Black History Month. And I really can’t remember when this actually took place… the year when a young 15 year old youth went south to Mississippi from Chicago, to spend the summer with relatives in the south.
In looking back at a newspaper article on the story, I see where it took place in 1955. The summer Emmett Till went to spend what was to be his lastsummer visiting those cousins, and an aunt and uncle down south. Because somewhere during that visit in August 1955 it was said
that Emmett took certainly liberties with some white woman. He got out of place… he crossed that divide that colored and white were not to cross… because he was just being a young innocent kid… unaware of the do’s and the don’t of the then… and maybe still in some parts of the south.
Supposedly young Emmett while in this woman’s family store had told the white woman how he had dated a woman just like her up in Chicago. And upon leaving the store it was said that young Emmett Till gave that woman 1 of those big long whistles, that men did back in that time when they thought a woman was beautiful… somewhat of a wolf call or something.
It was that story of Emmett Till which always colored me and my thoughts about how when you leave home… if you lived north of the Mason/Dixon Line… how you should behave very differently if you were to go down south.
Something like how you had to remember when you crossed that line …that Mason/Dixon Line going into the south, that you were no longer in the north… or in your little Northern town or big city, like Chicago or Detroit. And how remembering this… that this ‘black and white thang’ could possibly save your life.
I recall once just we had crossed that line 1 summer on 1 our many drives south to visit my grand mother in the south, that once we pulled up to a motel where my mother sent me out to go inside and ask how much it would cost to get a room?
An occasional stop at a motel to freshen up used to be a habit of my family sometimes while we were making the more that 20 hour trip down south to Florida. But this particular day as I almost was about to reach for the door leading into the motel office, out came running two black boys… or teens… something I couldn’t really tell how old they were as they came running through that door shouting back to me, ‘Get of of here! Go! Go!’
I immediately ran back to our car and reported to my mother and father what those 2 boys had told me as they had whizzed pass me and shouted for me to get out of there.
Suddenly, my mother started screaming at me to get in the car… and she started hollering they ain’t gonna take my sons. ‘They ain’t gonna take my sons.’
Boy, I had never seen anything like it or ever heard my mother react in such a way. But years later I understood.
At that time my brothers were young kids… maybe 10 or 11 or something like that. But my mother having grown up in the south… my being a Jamaican had grew up in Jamaica so he had not really experienced any that Jim Crow stuff of the deep south. But my mother knew it well. And she knew that it would not matter to white folks that my brothers had not robbed or done whatever those 2 boys had done… but that they were black and that in of itself would have been enough for my young brothers to have been taken …in place of the real crooks or whatever they were who had come running out of that motel office.
I do not think we ever again stopped at another motel in all the years we continued to travel back and forth to Florida after that.
For years, I think that up until this very point I had always felt that Emmett Till should have been told how to behave, and carry himself while down there in the south. I always thought it was his mother’s fault for not sitting him down, and telling him how to behave down there when it came to being around white folks. It was the typical blaming that many people do when they blame the dead for being dead. Like some people blame Trayvon Martin for being out late… or out in the rain in that white neighborhood when he got shot and killed.
I thought that way because I was stupid. I was blind. Ignorant of the fact that many times it just didn’t matter what we did do or not, irregardless there was a very likely could still come up dead
He was a kid. And you could have told him something a thousand times, and would you believe you wouldn’t have to tell him it again… as we all do when it comes to talking to our children?
Emmett Till did not live in the south. Nor was there any reason for me to believe that what had been said regarding that story had been true. For you see, evidently I had believed something inappropriate must have been done for those white men to go in the middle of the night seeking this young boy, regarding something something he had said and/or done.
That is the irony of it. How readily we eat up the things we see or hear.
It had been a lie. It had all been a lie. And because some white woman had lied on her son, Mrs. Till was forced to go down to Mississippi and collect the bloated remains of her young teen age son, her only child… I think… and bring him back to Chicago in order to bury him.
Years later after Emmett Till had been viciously murder by a group of white men in the middle of the night, after going to his relative’s house and demanding that they send him out to them or they would burn them out and all up in their home.
How could that woman possibly live with herself after that?
Years later, I moved to Chicago and while working as a church secretary for a pastor by the name of Dr. A. L. Reynolds, Jr., I was told something by Dr. Reynolds, who pastored Sixth Grace United Presbyterian Church, at Cottage Grove and 35th Street, on the South Side.
Dr. Reynolds 1 day came into the office and for some reason began telling a story, of how he had had to run away from his home, which had been back in Arkansas. The reason he had to pick up and get out of there he told me, was because some white woman wanted him and he didn’t want her. That is exactly how he put it. He said, ‘she wanted me. But I didn’t want her. So, I had to leave.’ Because I did not want her to lie on me. Because in those days a white woman could say a black man raped her and they (meaning the other white people… mostly men) would kill him.
So, Dr. Reynolds said he got of Arkansas as quickly as he could.
And he said he left Arkansas running because he didn’t want her to tell a lie on him.
Through the our history in this country many black people have found it necessary to get up and get out of town in the middle of night, headed north or to other points unknown. Because they were afraid of some type of bad consequence which might take hold upon them… or befall them due to a lie… or some white person wanting something that belonged to them.
It comes to mind that even in Biblical text Abram lied. He was forced to lie when he and Sarah went to enter Egypt. And he became afraid that the king… otherwise known as Pharaoh… would want his wife, Sarai…as she was then before being renamed by God Sarah. Because the Bible says she was fair and goodly to look upon.
So, Abram felt that he would be killed by Pharaoh. So, therefore, told Sarai that they should say that he was her brother rather than her husband.
The end of this story is that Pharaoh and the people of his kingdom are overtaken by what the Bible calls a ‘great plague.’ Pharaoh questions Abram and asked him why he had not told him that the woman, Sarai… was his wife?
We come into the 21st Century now, some more than 60 years later and now we hear that the white woman who had told her husband and his white buddies, that Emmett Till had whistled and spoken to her… a white woman inappropriately… that she had lied.
All that pain and heartbreak … tears shed had been over a lie.
A young boy was pulled and dragged out into the dark of night… tortured and beaten …then partially burned and thrown into the river… to be found days later a bloated beyond recognition dead decomposing body. Because that woman lied. And now …I guess on her death bed… or on her near death bed she tells the truth… that she lied about the whole thing.
How did that woman do that… when she knew what the consequences for any black man would be?
She knew what times she lived in. But just did not care. She told that lie knowing that some out of control white drunken men were going to go and find them a white boy, and have what they called ‘have some fun.’ While they enjoyed torturing him and beating him…and eventually killing him.
How did this young boy respond?
Can you imagine what was going through his mind and heart… scared beyond his wits…
kicked…slapped…punched… stomped… cut… lit on fire…
And all because some white woman thought it nothing to lie on him. And me thinking years later that it had been his fault… because nobody every trained him properly how to behave around white folks.
This reminds me of how I hear black commentators on television now when they are talking about black men being shot and killed by white police officers. Everybody saying they should have kept their hands on the dashboard… or where they could be seen… or not moved too quickly… etc… etc… etc….
Blaming the victim because racist people still abound….
Well, God bless… It was sleeting a little bit this morning. But I hope it is nice and warm
where you are. Have a good day all… and remember it’s BLACK HISTORY MONTH. “pass it on…” http://www.bsmith101.wordpress.com ©2017
Add a comment February 8, 2017
When I read the story I knew I was going to be writing a blog on it. At first I chalked it up to something not clicking in their heads. And I said ‘they’… because first it was Serena and her nude layout in Esquire magazine.
Now here comes Venus with her illusion.
I thought about my young indiscretions. Things I did in my youth that I would never do or think to do now. Foolish things…some even down right ridiculous. But I did them.
And I wasn’t embarrassed about either…nor did I think anything wrong about me doing so. Getting almost naked…top off and letting it all hang out while I laid in the sun and walked along the rolling waves.
So, when I thought of this I re-thought what I was going to say in this blog. I am now a little more tolerant of youth…and yes they do…do crazy things…we all sometimes do and have too.
Yes, I think it bad taste the choice that Venus made in her design of her tennis outfit for the French Open, in making it appear that she wasn’t wearing underwear…and thinking that it was cute… or comical… or sassy…or sexy… or even stylish.
I would never, however, compare my removing my top and enjoying a day out on the beach to being on center court in Paris at the French Open with tons of TV and news cameras flashing at me.
In fact, thinking about it made me think of Josephine Baker and her bananas…and the scathy way she used to dress when she performed. I very much think that if Josephine were alive today that she might re-think wrapping bananas around her waist and shaking her stuff like she was crazy.
I have always held that both Venus and Serena were great role models in all aspects of their careers…not just for young girls and the young ladies within our own race, but also to those outside of it as well. That is…up until Serena posed naked and now Venus stepping out on the courts wearing something…wanting to give the illusion of being naked.
It is all rather a bit too much for me to take at this time.
They have burst my bubble…
What are they thinking?
First Serena…then Tiger…and now Venus.
It was nice while it lasted. It used to be such a pleasure picking up the newspaper…or watching the news…or catching stuff over the internet about them. Now all 3 of them seem to be falling from the mark… loosing their barings…and the standards they once set for themselves… that they once up-held. And that they are now dropping down by the wayside.
My father would call it…going out of the world backwards. He was great at saying that…and especially to me. Perhaps, it has much to do with why I am as I am today.
But maybe it’s been too much money?
Too much fame?
Or maybe it is just their youth…
Or too much pressure being Black…and being so in sports that many Black people did not participate in…and then landing on the top of it. Sports which had typically been dominated by non-Black athletes…and here you go ending up being the top money makers…highest paid athletes in their games…grossing the highest earnings as a male atheletic… and as female athletes.
What an achievement. I am sure that it must come with plenty of scars… hurt… and lots of anguish. Particularily, when you were just starting out. Nobody within those circles liked you then…much less loved you. You were just a dark spot coming into a lilly white game that nobody believed would bloom and grow up dominating…and then becoming number 1.
Yeah, that had to be hard. Going out on courts where everybody snubbed you…and didn’t want you anywhere around in their ‘white only’ club houses. But then gradually over time and championships all of that changed. They came to know your name…wrote stories about you… wanted private interviews with you… and a few even sought you out for sponsorships. But not as many as you could have gotten…and should have gotten…if you were white.
But you aren’t white. Never been white…and I’m hoping never wanted to be white. But now you are ‘in like Flen.’ They can’t deny your talent… or your gifts from God. But you still remember the pain…the time when… When things didn’t seem that they were ever going to get to where they are now…but yet you kept pushing… kept reaching …striving… and achieving.
At the time it may have seemed like a great idea when Venus sat down and decided to design it… but to take black lace and create something which looks more like a ladies bustiea was never ever a good idea…when it was her intention to wear such an outfit out in public.
Why would Venus want to go out on center court…on a world stage looking like a cheap downtown hustler or prostitute?
All I can say is…. blame it on her youth…perhaps the times.
Nor do they see anything wrong or filthy in wearing their pajamas out in street. Or the boys with their pants hanging down to their knees.
There is something very wrong with the way culture and fashion seem to be clashing today. Standards in etiquette, style and class have all taken a back seat to the tasteless, classless and raunchy. And it doesn’t seem to matter how much money you make… or whether you are our new set of athletic supper stars… or new found musical talents and movie stars of today.
All tattooed out from head to toe…and pierced all over the place. There was a time only a chosen few rebellious outcast doorned the way out hair, blacken fingernails, body piercing and tattoos. But not now. It’s your daughter and my nieces and some nephews…and practically all the guys who play professional basketball and everything else. And every drummer…and groupie alike.
Used to be that everybody was searching for their own ‘unique’ them. Now it seems that everyone wants to be like everyone else. Marked up and grossly ‘un-individual.’
No one could ever say that she wasn’t a class act. No, they could never say that about Lena Horne. Always beautiful…and sassy… she had an air of proud-ness about her that could not be mistaken.
Can’t say I personally met her…but I once did have an opportunity to catch her in a performance at McCormick Place in Chicago. It was an opening when the seniors of Sixth Grace United Presbyterian Church decided to sponsor a trip to catch Lena in her finale show she was on tour with. Though I didn’t really want to go…by the time I got in my seat and Lena started to perform I was more than happy to be there.
I had never really thought much about Lena Horne as she was before my time. But the show was a retrospect of her life in the entertainment business, obstacles she had encountered, her determination to make it to the top in spite of…and it was filled with plenty of spunk and humor. I thought about Lena for days after that show… I loved it. I had absolutely loved that show and fell in love with Lena. And all those seniors who dragged me there loved it too.
I remember Mother Emma Turner so well. She just would not let me say ‘no.’ Nor would Mrs. Ripperton…Minnie’s mother…they teamed up on me. And so I got a wonderful opportunity to see and hear a legion. Someone I think I had seen her on the old Ed Sullivan Show several times…and had certainly seen in a couple of old movies. But that night even as an older woman…Lena was radiant and still just as beautiful.
Lena Horne passed recently a few days ago…and I had never known she was a native New Yorker. A Brooklyn girl in fact. I guess that accounts for why she had so much spunk and a wonderful attitude. And boy….did she have attitude…and in a good loving way.
Got a ton of hits today regarding this story. So, I decided that I would comment on it.
This is the story about the ex-Detroit Mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick who just got thrown back in prison by a Judge who decided that Kwame hadn’t really learned his lesson…though he contended that he was changed and had become a ‘good guy.’
So, Kwame hires her as the personal assistant to the Mayor. And somewhere along the line they began carrying on romantically…texting messages and meeting up in various hotel rooms…then chatting about it in their text messages…him and Christine.
All of this while Kwame was taking the city for a ride…and living large…and I guess a little too large. For which the City of Detroit is demanding restitution. Well, they demanded it back in 2008 when the city took him to court…sued him… and then sent him to jail for 2 months. But Kwame after paying $140,000.00 against a $3 million debt…claimed that he had no more money. And did not the court find out otherwise.
Now, he is back off to jail again. And as you can see in the top courtroom picture of him…he is none too happy.
“When you are voted in by the people you have a moral responsibility to the people.”
And you also have a debt of service…which should not be converted into a self-serving attitude.
There is something about power…if you are not careful you can become too full of yourself and abuse it. I think that is what happened to Kwame…he became too full of himself. And then started thinking he was untouchable.
I have to say that after watching this footage I feel sorry for her… Christine Beatty. Almost everybody deserves a chance… and an opportunity to be forgiven. We have all done some foolish things. I know that I have.
It is highly unlikely that Ms. Beatty will resume her studies in law…or become that lawyer. But perhaps she will… sometimes these kinds of things come to prove to us who God is… and to make us better…stronger and more determined to succeed… and to labor to do the right things.
I wish her well… both of them really.
Some of us have to rise up out of the pits of hell to find ourselves and our true calling in life.
Worst oil spillage ever?
I thought that the oil spill that hit Alaska some years ago was the worst. And based upon what I hear the effects of it are still being felt. Perhaps it is time…or way past time that a little more time and oversight should be spent on ensuring that these type of things just do not happen. And at the very least certainly not to this extent.
The oil spill that hit Alaska in 2009 was due a boat transporting oil owned by Exxon. The Exxon Valdez ran aground spilling nearly 11 million gallons of oil upon a clean and scenic Alaska water way. Now the BP oil company is currently dealing with a oil rig which exploded killing 11 of its workers releasing an inestimable amount of crude oil which is now beginning to wash up on the shores of Louisiana and Florida. And is threatening to not only damage the Gulf and its coast line but also that of shores on the Atlantic Ocean side.
It is terrible seeing the birds covered with oil trapped down under the weight of it covering them, near dead in the muck of muddy tar like waste just waiting to die. The pollution that has filled their air, shores and an ever enlarging area destroying lives…and undoubtedly causing plenty of soon to come health issues. And while destroying the beauty of our dear Mother Earth.
Besides having to deal with the news of the oil spill President Obama was at West Point this past weekend delivering their Commmencement Speech. He has grown to not look Presidential but also sound it.
Though in reading the story I could not help but notice how whenever the writer spoke of the President…he always used the lower case ‘P’ …like when he wrote ‘and the president…’, as opposed to a capital ‘P.’ Which in the past has always been the custom in this country when referring to our Presidents in print. And that is why it always leaps out at me now whenever I come across it this way. Because I am not accustom to seeing that done at any other time in reference to the President of the United States.
It would the equivalent of using a lower case ‘q’ whenever someone wrote something in reference to ‘the Queen.’ Which is a definite no-no…just ask the British. You never see that…nor did I ever see a lower case ‘P’ ever being used in newspaper articles or anything else in reference to our other Presidents… past Presidents of the United States prior to Barack Obama. That is until this time. To be sure Barack Obama is ‘our’ President…and he definitely got voted into the White House. He is owed the respect that is due him as any other man who has operated in that capacity. And I have read several articles now written with that lower case ‘p’ when referring to him…and I find it to be a slap in his face…an insult and total lack of respect.
It speaks volumes as to the state of mind and hidden agendas… and bias feelings which still exist here in this country. And I do speak of racism.
At least Barack Obama got voted in…whereas George W. Bush stole his way into the White House. And what a set-up that was…not to mention a mess he created of this country under him.
Now, if they…those newspaper columnists and others could refer to George W. Bush in their writings…their news articles and the like with a capital ‘P’…then I see no reason why they have a problem and cannot do so when referring to President Obama. Who by the way…got voted in…and by a resounding number.
I started this blog near 7 PM and it is now 5:45 AM. And I really can’t go a step further.
I can’t do it now…because I just can’t keep my eyes open. It gets like that sometimes.
But I just had to try to finish this as so many people have been hitting my blog to check on some things. Now, I feel much better…because it is done. And if I think of anything else I will add it later. Good-night….
THE BISHOP’S WIFE is now on sale…
Thank you for reading this blog…and my others. Please be sure to continue to share this blog site with your family, co-workers and all your friends… “pass it on…” www.bsmith101.wordpress.com ©2010
2 comments May 26, 2010