Sunday, January 17, 2010

Why a Blog on Memories

Someone asked me why was I doing a blog on our life?  I'm just trying to make sense about where we've been and what's it all about.  We are ordinary people from humble beginnings with hopes and dreams for a good life.  We worked hard, even when we watched some of our dreams crash. We've been blessed to live in a remarkable time, from segregation to integration.

Dr. King's birthday offers an opportunity to write about the why. We were in Montgomery on a segregated bus the same year that Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her seat, and because of King's actions, our lives, and many others, have been transformed.

This blog is my attempt to offer a peek into the lives of a typical, middle-class family that lived and worked in America when, as Bob Dylan wrote, The Times They Are A-Changin'.

African Americans lived in the shadows. Our lives weren't documented or studied, except in some sociology texts where a deficit model was used.  Yet, throughout America's history many lived quiet, unassuming, unnoticed lives. Some were successful; others were not.  The Civil Rights Movement changed how we were viewed and the election of Barack Obama put a spotlight on the Black family.

Blacks moved from slaves to honored guests in the White House — President Abraham Lincoln met with abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth in the White House — to indispensable parts of White House life. President Andrew Johnson appointed William Slade as the first White House steward, the person charged with running the domestic side of the White House.

Not only did Blacks work in the White House, they also started working at the White House. E. Frederick Morrow was the first African-American appointed a White House aide by Eisenhower in 1955;  (The year we married.) John F. Kennedy named Andrew Hatcher associate press secretary in 1960.

The progress was hardly smooth.

In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt formally invited Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner.... Southern newspapers were outraged and publicly condemned Roosevelt after they learned of the invitation from an Associated Press dispatch. Roosevelt never invited another African-American to a White House dinner.

In 1935, Mary McLeod Bethune, was chosen as Roosevelt's special advisor on Minority Affairs. Now, today, an African American family lives in the White House. Many of us older African Americans are still processing this.  Because of our country's past history, we still find it hard to believe.

It is nostalgic as well as enlightening to rewind all these experiences, smile and remember them again.

I have to admit that I was unsure in the beginning if it would be of interest to anyone.  Many of you been very kind with your comments and I hope you continue to find our memories worthwhile.  One thing is sure--we have had some wonderful adventures.

One philosopher said ...When you create beautiful memories you get to enjoy them twice, once while doing them and again when remembering them...and it is not the number of breaths we take but the moments that take out breath away...that's the measure of your life... !!!

Please allow me to repeat a favorite poem of mine:

I am old and need to remember.
You are young and need to learn.
If I forget the words
Will you remember the music?
from Swaziland


  1. You are one of the reasons that blogging makes sense for me. To find your words, expressed eloquently, honestly and profoundly, inspires me to continue to write down my memories and words close to my heart. Thank you for doing what you do!

    By the way, I was born in 1963, so I can't say that I can recall much about segregation. My parents didn't speak of it and if it was out there, we were often shielded from it. I appreciated reading your insight.

  2. CCD- Thanks for your comment. You were born one year after my last child was born and there was still segregation, but not as much. Most Black parents tried to shield their children because the effects are so terrible.

  3. What a privelege to be invited into your lives through your history. I marvel as I learn about a faction of history that was never touched upon the whole time I went through school. I am enlightened, entertained and touched. Thank you so very much!

    (that Swaziland quote is a beauty)

  4. Thanks, Kass. I've enjoyed meeting you and others through this blog.

  5. I've posted and sent others to your blog. I want them to read the beauty of your words.

  6. I'm new to your blog, thanks to Kass I have the pleasure to discover it. I enjoy very much reading your memories, they are full of love, passion, compassion and inspiration.

    Keep it up.


  7. I'm glad that Simone pointed us over here in her blog post today. You are not only living through history, you are creating your own history as you continue to live through your life. Wonderful!!

  8. I am glad to have a blog like yours to read. You have a lot of great memories, that a young person like me can learn a lot from. Thank you Christella!

  9. Your blog is what it is all about! I love that you are writing all your memories into one blog, one specific place for your family to read. Also, for others, like me, to learn about history. Thank you for writing this blog.