In My Write Mind
***Soundtrack--"We Gon' Make It", Jadakiss, Kiss The Game Goodbye***
Yesterday, everything made sense. Two days after the disappointment and resignation and fear, yesterday, why I love America and why I need to believe in America, made perfect sense. Indeed, if Tuesday and Wednesday was a sickness, yesterday was the cure.
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) held its dinner last night at the midtown Hilton Hotel and Towers. The LDF, founded in 1940, honored the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. And I was there. In the presence of the honorees, ones who laid the smack down in front of the U.S. Supreme Court so that black children would have an equal chance to succeed. There I was, shaking hands with Mrs. Thurgood Marshall, or Cecilia, and her son; the Honorable Robert L. Carter, an attorney who argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the families in Topeka, KN; the Honorable Constance Baker Motley, who was Thurgood's right hand and oversaw most of the cases that took place during that landmark era; attorney Adrian W. DeWind, who successfully defended the LDF's tax extempt status against the IRS just months after the Brown ruling; and Professor Jack Greenberg, who, at 27, was another one of the lawyers who went before the Supreme Court in the Brown case.
All of them were honored last night, along with a posthumous honor for Justice Marshall.
All of them were members of the LDF team that sacrificed their time, energy and careers going against the Jim Crow laws of the south. And they won. What they did back then makes sense to me and still does today because their efforts gave us all a chance to receive the tools necessary for success. We should know that before integration, all-white schools received the "quality" books and teachers while the Negro schools were shortchanged, to say the least. That decision 50 years ago led to all children being given an equal chance to succeed. And in the next decade, even more progress was made as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, ensuring that all citizens of the United States would be able to vote.
And although it may not seem that progress has been made, what will all the below-board education and disinterest in voting that is taking place right before our eyes, it has. There are more black people in college today than at any time in history, and this year alone, almost a million people registered to vote for the first time. We know there's still work to do in many high schools in our nation, from New York to Los Angeles, from Detroit to Chicago. That part is disheartening, some 50 years later. But its a job that's easier to do because the groundwork was laid out by hard-working, determined people.
That, to me, makes sense. It made my yesterday seem OK. Just like the hiring of my boyhood hero, the former second baseman of the New York Yankees, Willie Randolph, being hired as manager of the New York Mets. Randolph, straight outta Brownsville, Brooklyn, USA, is the very FIRST African American baseball manager in New York. Randolph, almost not so coincidentally, was born the same year as the Brown decision. That I emulated him growing up on the playgrounds of Queens made me proud yesterday. That he's qualified to handle the assignment after years of playing the game and learning the game and teaching the game makes me happy. That he was given a chance in his hometown makes sense.
It makes me believe that even though we've been through a lot this week, and will for the forseeable future, to be sure--there are still some things that let you exhale. That serve as a cure for a week-long sickness.
There were decisions that were celebrated yesterday, both 50 years old, both within miles of one another, that should've been a cure. Things that make you proud to be who you are and live where you do.
Things that still make sense...
scribbled by Will at 11/05/2004 01:27:00 PM
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I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. (Joan Didion)
The Write One
Will. Lefty. Since Summer 1971. Over the next six months, I'll be saying some hellos, some goodbyes. Living, laughing, growing. Don't.miss.a.word.
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