Champions of Children never Fade away!
By now, if you’ve read any of my past blogs, you likely can tell that I love learning - not only by reading, and studying, but also by observing people and their behaviors. Right now, I’m on a plane heading to the African continent – the birthplace of all mankind and at one time in history, the wealthiest on Earth. There lies my ancestry. My mind turns to those African American women educators, who helped shaped my spirit and consciousness during my formative years. Although not fully grasped then, their tremendous courage and fortitude still serve as a lifeline. As shared in earlier writings, my incredible mother, Marie, impacted and influenced me most. Gracefully, God blessed me with some unrelated by blood. They include my pre-school through elementary school. Please allow me to introduce you to them.
Mrs. Edwards, a committed educator of little minds and preschool teacher from ages 3 to 6, shepherded me through these years. A lady of distinction held classes in a red schoolhouse built by her husband in their backyard. It was she who taught me to sit still and quiet and listen closely – even when appearing not to. She allowed me permission to ask as many questions as I liked. What a marvelous start for a young girl thirsting for knowledge! First grade introduced me to Miss Pierce, a beautiful, tall, stately elegant woman. Kind beyond measure, Miss Pierce allowed me to retreat into quiet spaces of reflection, while learning. Believe it or not, even a precocious 6-year-old needs spaces of solitude. Barely five feet tall, Miss Alexander, my second-grade teacher, and school principal, stood strong and disciplined. She taught me integrity. Then in third grade, Mrs. Hughes, a genteel lady with a lovely smile, modeled grace and love. In fourth grade Mrs. Cameron, who never raised her voice, modeled “coolness” under pressure. At 10-years old, Mrs. Davis, a woman dour in personality, large in body type, and just plain mean, schooled me on not differentiating between people based on skin tone or any other superficial trait. Witnessing her traumatizing twin girls by showering praise on the light-complexion one, and, simultaneously, constantly belittling the beautiful, darker hued child saddened me. Now understanding the degree of internalized trauma we carry and its manifestation, I give her grace and appreciation for learned lessons. In sixth grade, stout, laughter-filled Mrs. Scott. This mother of a handsome adopted son, over whom my best friends and I gushed, made time for us kids to have fun. And she role-modeled the benefits of laughing even when faced with obstacles.
My early educators, whose faces I clearly remember, prepared me to integrate previously all-white schools at age twelve, and succeed. It is crucial that, early on, children have teachers that educate them in life lessons. Deep within my spirit are the teachings with which I was blessed.