I grew up in the south, specifically Alabama, more specifically…Tuskegee. ‘Skegee affords you an education you can only get in the birthplace Rosa Parks. I was blessed to have received this learning. It was at the age of six that I was asked by Lionel Richie to take his hand in marriage right outside the Alabama Exchange Bank. Of course he meant in 12+ years but nevertheless, I graciously received his proposal. At seven, I spent my Saturday afternoons in the summer watching the Calhoun boys skin the deer that hung from a tree in their parent’s front yard. With blackberry stained fingers and muscadine skins at our feet, we watched with mouths agate.
You can’t beat the rich history in Tuskegee, and I don’t only mean human experimentation on sexually transmitted infections. The streets breathe culture…the homes, the trees, the University, the museums. Fred Gray told me story after story of the boycotts and his defense of Martin Luther King Jr. You can’t get that anywhere but barefoot on a rocking chair front porch, overlooking the lake, in the middle of August while drinking a Tahitian Treat and eating a chicken sandwich from The Coop.
I remember the first time I saw a White person. Actually, I had seen them before at church but I always thought those were like me, light-skinned. They were accepted in the community and we loved them so they weren’t really White, not like those that burned crosses, hung men and turned hoses on humans. It was during an election season and there was a van full of people outside the WalMart passing out campaign flyers and ‘vote for me’ buttons. A tall blonde man in a black suit bent down to shake my hand. He looked at my mother like everyone else, with that ‘you must be babysitting’ glare. He gave me a flyer.
From then on, I thought elections were for White people. Real ones. Most of my Black brothers and sisters seem to believe the same as evident by our recent election turnout. I dare not believe that only 4.7% hit the polls as has been unfounded and undisputed. At least I hope this is inaccurate. Many of our politicians seem to agree with the unsophisticated philosophy on politics of my youth. I didn’t see any politicians who reflected our student population on campus, but I must commend Bob Etheridge and his team on their mission to drive Black students to the polls.
Unfortunately, he did not win but he got me thinking, actually a friend got me thinking when he questioned why politicians don’t hit up the Black colleges. After all he said, “they are the future, they don’t need to campaign to me”.