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Emancipated: Free, I Ain’t Going Back
1/4/2017 12:54:32 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 

Monday was an extraordinary day for the 154th celebration of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation Association celebration. The weatherman previously predicted 70% rain. Today, the chances had dwindled down to 20% intermittently. The parade reached its destination without a drop of rain. To my amazement, the opposite happened.

It was dry and the temperature reached 78 degrees. Momma was a praying woman and a long time officer in the Emancipation Association and no matter how ominous the weather may have been leading up to the parade, it rarely rained. Momma would say, “It will not rain on my parade.” It’s something to be said about a praying mom.

After the parade and church service, I spent some time with friends over dinner reflecting on the old days and the true meaning of Emancipation. As gloomy as the future may be, there isn’t a whole lot we can do but follow Momma’s example and pray. While y’all are praying, don’t forget you have to work also. No one is going to walk up to you and hand you “changes” on a silver platter. Changes come through hard work and persistence.

This may be one of the few lighthearted articles that I will do this year. No one knows what loose lip President–Elect Trump may do or say to land this country into war. He has been talking a lot and hasn’t quit talking since the election. Although lighthearted, the intention is to get you to think in terms of what it means to be free from slavery.

I don’t know about y’all but I ain’t going back. Whatever Trump decides to do, if it is not in your best interest or that of this country, make some noise. Whatever you do, do not forfeit the rights that others so valiantly fought and died for.

I have never picked cotton or tobacco in the blazing heat of summer but I know friends and families who have. I have never worked in a snake and malaria infested rice field but I do know they existed. Today’s children would have never survived the 50’s and 60’s. They are too “soft”. So, let me take you back to a time when things were not so good, convenient or legal.

I remember watching the first black and white TV at the barbershop when dad would take the boys to get their hair cut. Then, a neighbor in the hood got the first black and white TV. We were so excited as if the TV belonged to the neighborhood. We would see-saw up and down and peek into the neighbor’s window to watch TV until dad busted us and got us a TV. The trade-off was dad would cut the boys’ hair and save the haircut money to pay for the TV.

I am sure if you asked the boys, the trade-off wasn’t the best but they got to watch TV at home without reprisal from dad. So, it was well worth the compromise.
Then there was the color TV. Do you remember the advent of color TV? It was merely some type of film over the black and white with about four colors. Now, before I can get the latest and greatest high-tech TV home, something else is on the market. What about those rabbit ears? OMG! Who invented those things? Half of the time, you had to put foil on them and they still did not provide the best reception. And the knobs on the radio and TV never worked for long. Pliers were used to change the channels. And, you think I want to go back to that?

I grew up in a small two bedroom home—one room for the parents and one for the children. The mattress had real springs in them that could cut your throat if you ever broke one loose. We lived near the railroad tracks and got very little sleep until we got use to the noise.

I can’t go back to the tracks. I can hardly sleep now, my hearing isn’t what it used to be and my body is just too old to adjust to the noise.

I can’t ever remember not voting. I will not allow anyone to take away my voting rights. I don’t know and don’t care to know the number of jelly beans in a jar or bubbles in a bar of soap. And if no one else has to know, neither should I.

Growing up, I never knew that chicken had any other parts but neck, feet, back, gizzard and liver. And, I never knew that I could try on clothes and shoes in stores without being insulted or arrested.

I had a car since I was 19 years old. That was considered the exception back in the day. I got my car early on out of necessity because my first bus experience on a visit home was insulting. I sat directly behind the driver on the bench seat. An elderly white lady thought I had taken the wrong seat. She kept shifting around in her seat and looking towards the back of the bus. It was obvious that she did not want to sit next to me. Now, y’all know! Before I ended up in jail, I bought my first car.

My summer visits to granny’s farm always turned into disaster. I remember trying to cut wood for the fireplace. My first time around, I missed the wood and cut my ankle. It got better but I am comfortable with my central HVAC system; no more worries about the source of energy for my home. What about those out houses that you would smell a mile away? And, you think I want to go back to that?

Y’all please don’t “trouble Trump unless Trump troubles you”. I ain’t going backwards!!


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