Remember, my grandfather was partly responsible for committing Clennon King Jr., a black man, to Whitfield, the Mississippi mental institution due to Clennon’s attempt to enroll at the University of Mississippi. That was in 1958.
In 1962, James Meredith became the first black man to enroll at the University of Mississippi. In December 1962, Bob Dylan recorded the song “Oxford Town” about him. At the time, Dylan was still an up-and-coming musician and Meredith was one of the most hated and admired men in America.
He went down to Oxford Town
Guns and clubs followed him down
All because his face was brown
Better get away from Oxford Town
Meredith is alive today and lives in Jackson, MS with his wife, Judy. This article tells more of their journey, A New Mississippi
If you haven’t heard the blues song he refers to in the article, take a listen: Shake Your Money Maker
Let’s keep fighting for justice!
My connection to Mississippi as the place I was born and raised has been revealing on many levels as of late. I never felt like I belonged there. Most of the women had blond straight hair and always looked so put together. My hair was brown, wavy and frizzy and I didn’t make looking put together a priority. Like the chairs in my relative’s house that look great but are painful to sit in, there was pain. Any trauma experiences are and were brushed aside, as it’s too ugly to look at and uncomfortable to talk about. Hence, drinking, numbing. I was shamed by a family member for speaking about being raped by my first cousin. In listening to Laurie Halse Anderson’s Shout , I realize how much I suppressed and how unhealthy it has been.
Much of what Gillian May writes in this essay rings true with my own relationship with alcohol. I’ll be 3 years sober in August.
I’ll continue on the path of learning and healing for myself and our world. This episode from Radiolab tells the story of Mississippi’s past, the removal of the Confederate flag and the search for a new one. Shout out to Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy, An American Memoir and Laurin Stennis
Radiolab Podcast: The Flag and the Fury
As always thanks for reading.
Well of course the Dolphin is in the shop, getting the oil pan replaced due to an oil leak. It’s old, I love it. Should get it this afternoon and then be good to go. Since this weekend is 4th of July (another holiday I don’t care for, many dogs and war veterans don’t love it either) I’ll wait to start my journey back to Oregon next week. I plan to stock up on food, etc so the only stops I need to make are for gas and camping. It feels really important right now to social distance as much as possible. There are so many more people in Montana I’d love to see but socializing is just not a good idea.
The outdoors is undoubtably the best medicine for me. I do hope to take my time and enjoy it. There is no rush to get anywhere at this time.
What would redemption look like?
Trump would not be reelected. Better yet, he somehow would be removed from office before the election. He would be charged with tax fraud, etc and sent to jail.
Police who have committed murder would be charged and sent to jail.
New programs would be put in place, people trained to actually help in difficult situations ie: dealing with a mental health issues, domestic violence and police would become less militarized.
Every state would offer vote by mail.
Racism would be understood and no longer be an issue.
Closed minds and hearts would open.
My daughter would come to understand that alcohol and past hurts caused me to act in ways I would never act now after years of recovery. I could hold her and tell her how very sorry I am for the times she did not feel safe.
She would realize that he father continued to make sexual advances towards me, after we were divorced and both re-married. He threatened me if I ever told anyone. He told me he would pay for her college education as agreed in our divorce. He didn’t pay. The divorce decree also, stated he would pay me back part of the money I used from my own finances to support us while he finished college. He never actually graduated from college, even though his father cracked a bottle of champagne because he thought his son had a degree. He never paid me back the money.
She would see that even though her step dad was a nice guy and good dad to her, he cheated on his first wife and cheated on me 3 times. He belittled me behind closed doors. Somehow he made it look as though I was the one breaking up our marriage. Closed minds and hearts would open.
The man who raped me would somehow be found out and found guilty.
What’s your redemption list?
Good time to donate blood.
Yesterday I donated blood. For a month, the Red Cross is testing for Covid-19 antibodies. It’s been a week, so for 3 more weeks they will do the test. I was told I should hear back in about 7-10 days. I also got a t-shirt and a $5 gift card to Amazon, woohoo. Of course, masks are required and sanitation is on going.
Montana is at it’s best in beauty right now. Perfect temperatures, wild flowers blooming and opportunities to be outside and not around people. With the Covid numbers on the rise, staying away from people and crowds will only serve us, along with mask wearing and washing hands.
Dolphin update: she has an oil leak. That will be taken care of next week. More money into her. Still determined to get her to Eugene and make decision on how far I will go on repairs. She will serve as my moving van. Of course, I have too much stuff. Several bins of old pictures and memorabilia. Not sure what I’m saving them for. Yesterday, I passed a fellow dolphinite. We waved as if we were long lost friends with a mutual love.
If you go looking, you may not like what you find. I decided to google my deceased paternal grandfather. He was chancery clerk of Hinds county (Jackson, MS) in 1958. I always felt he was not a totally honest man. He often kept to himself in his room when we visited his house. I never had any one on one time with him as a young child. He was not a hands on kind of grandfather.
I found a congressional record. It is written exactly a year before I was born. It stated, “June 7, 1958: King was committed on June 6th to Whitfield State Mental Hospital for a period of observation to last a minimum of 30 days. Examination by the two Hinds County doctors was by Chancery Clerk Frank Scott following a statement by Gov. J.P. Coleman who declared King “went berserk” during his attempt at entry to the University Thursday. Coleman said that if the mental examination shows King is sane, he will be tried on charges of disturbing the peace and resisting arrest on the Ole Miss campus at Oxford.” Yes, Clennon King was a black man. More on Clennon King Jr.
In 1962, James Meredith became the first black man to be admitted to the University of Mississippi.
My grandfather was part of this unjust system. I am not surprised, but heartbroken. So many emotions around this. My family has a history and continues to hide behind appearances. If it’s ugly don’t discuss, if it’s uncomfortable don’t go there. I’ve been the one in the family to go “berserk” over injustices and yes deemed insane by them.
Today I feel a little paralyzed learning this. However, it will also fuel me to continue the fight for bringing justice where it is due.
Complete Congressional Record
Sometimes, I fall asleep crying and wake up crying. I’ve come to accept that and move through it, knowing in another moment I won’t be.
I cry for missed opportunities, family gatherings, my grandchildren turning 6, hearing them call me Gaga, the comfort of family checking in on each other during a pandemic, sisters, nephews, daughter and grandchildren calling to wish me a happy 61st birthday, planning the next gathering, and laughing together.
For reasons, some of my own doing and some I’m not sure of, those opportunities have passed.
I do believe, if we all listened, really listened with the empathy to put ourselves in each other’s shoes, we could grow to understand and forgive. I believe there is a story to be told, one of love and redemption. Fear is erased, holds on control and the need to be right are loosened, and hearts are opened.
But for today, I’m off to Black Lives Matter Rally in Missoula. Black Lives Matter Rally
Showing up to show support, listen and learn.
Side note: the dolphin is running good. I took it to have oil changed at Lube It. The guys there loved it. I love it when whoever is working on it, loves it. Taking it into RV shop on Wednesday to have a few things taken care of. I love it and it needs so much work!
Sick Empire– podcast tells the stories of Black and Brown Communities Living in New York City During COVID-19
Meantime in Missoula, MT, armed white group corner a black teenager at protest. Missoulian article