I was born in 1968 so I was not around when the foundation was laid for the rights I have now. But growing up in the city of St. Louis in the 70’s and 80’s this is what I remember.
I remember my grandmother told me that it was important to save for a rainy day and she owned her home.
I remember neighbors watching out for one another.
I remember my dad standing up for what he believed in
I remember my dad owned his own business
I remember civil rights leaders ACTUALLY doing something….meaning that even though we lived in the city many minorities had opportunities that were created within the community
I remember we went to one of my great aunts salon to get our hair done because she owned her own salon
I also remember getting my hair done at home
I remember getting shoes on sale
I remember the pride we had when one of us did well or accomplished something
I remember pimps in the neighborhood but everyone knew that was not the way out
I remember prostitutes but they weren’t glamorized unless it was a blacksploitation movie
I remember community leaders actually being interested in the community
I remember it being ok and even admired if you moved on up….you were not called a sell out
I remember fathers
I remember grandmothers that were 65 and older not 35 to 50 years old
I remember it was not cool if you made a mistake…it wasn’t “cool now I get another check”
I remember people afraid to go to jail. Not tattoo their number on their face
I remember teachers, post office workers, government employees, trash collectors, maids and house keepers were not looked down on but they were honorable jobs that allowed children to get into better schools or neighborhoods or at least it paid the bills
I remember my family getting together for bbqs
I remember my grandmother on my mother’s side OWNED a tavern and property.
I remembered men who worked full time jobs and still come home and did mechanics work on the side
I remember pride
I remember the horrors of poverty and the pride of one day doing better. I remember the abuse and I remember the strength I gained from unspoken heros in the community that allowed me to escape
I live with hope that the embers of the fires that brought us this far will be stoked so that the next generation can see the greatness they came from and not the ashes that cause people to believe that all the good days are behind us. Great days are ahead of us and great days are happening right now if we choose to “remember. “