sistahspeak Lately the Black Woman has been blown away by certain realizations. On the drive home one of my dear friends asked me when the Civil Rights Movement began for me. Hers began in the early sixties. She is white. Though she is older than I, my awareness being black started earlier. In the fifties. Emmet Til. His mother insisted that his coffin be opened. She wanted the world to see what hatred and racism had done to her son. I saw it. It changed me. I remember thinking at the time ‘this shit has got to stop’

The fifties and sixties were an odd mixture of exuberance and profound sadness. Racism stole my childhood. Such as it was. Innocence. Gone. Forever.

My parents did all they could to shelter me. I was grown before I realized that on every trip we made south, there was a point both coming and going where we had adventure by using the side of the highway. The point was the Mason-Dixon line. I never once saw a bathroom marked colored.

I went to see a movie with my cousin down south. The Old Country for many black folk. I didn’t think anything about sitting in the balcony. I went to the balcony in Chicago cause I liked it. Sometime mid movie my cousin mentioned that only white folks could sit downstairs. My soda fell from the balcony onto an anonymous head downstairs. I reacted. I was wrong. And too young to know. I was doing the same thing that needed changing in white folks. Just on a smaller scale.

There was so much pain in the sixties. Too many funerals. Too many goodbyes.

Also two words never before uttered changed me deeply. Black Power Black. Power.

What will you tell your children you did for the revolution?

I dreamed of revolution. Prayed for it. Revolution when it came arrived quietly. Out of nowhere.

Barack Hussein Obama. Many led the revolution. Many fought for it. Many died. He represented. That is the nature of the backlash. We won. The revolution.

From the back of the bus to Air Force One. In my lifetime. My brother was quite correct. The revolution was televised. And the world saw and rejoiced.

Now run and tell that.

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