School’s in today for seven of the ten kids that live in the small house that sits in the middle of the long dusty lane. The kids may be many and the family is poor, but everything is clean and pristine, from their clothes to their floor. Well cared for, is each one of them, from top to bottom, by a never schooled mom, determined that her kids will see something better.
This school day, started just as yesterday’s, only in 1953 and in the deep rooted annuls of South Carolina. It had rained the night before this school day, and here lies where the story really begins.
Seven siblings walked out of their front door on what was looking to be a dark, drizzly day. They weren’t happy, rain meant muddy lanes, muddy lanes meant that their shoes would be caked with mud before they could get to the little one room school that sat on the edge of the small southern town. But, not going to school wasn’t an option, their chocolate skinned mom was more imposing then wading through a swamp full of mud to get to school.
On the road to school, they met up with a friend, a young boy around the age of two of the youngest of the siblings. If truth be told, he had a crush on one of the sisters. Hiding in the bushes until they just happened to meet up with each other on the way to school was all just a part of the crush ritual. Today, a part of the ritual will save seven lives.
To enter town on foot, there’s a bridge that crosses over a dried up old creek bed. Today’s crossing involves a not so dried up, slippery, muddy, old creek bed.
There is a history to this little, creaky, wooden, foot bridge. Every other school day, these siblings, and friend, would approach the bridge and cross, except when the white kids, coming from the opposite direction to go to a bigger and better school in the middle of town, arrived at the little foot bridge at the same time. When those incidents occured, an unwritten rule was was jointly recognized, the bridge became a whites only footbridge. So the siblings and friend, would walk in the usually dried up creek bed to cross. The little white kids enjoyed this power over the black kids and at every opportunity, used it.
Now that you know the history, in this case and on this day, history was not going to repeat itself. One of the siblings, the oldest, decided that he liked his shoes too much to cross the slippery, muddy, old creek bed, no matter what those little white kids were saying. This time, he told them, he and his siblings and friend, would cross the bridge and the little white kids would walk the creek bed. And so they did.
A day out of ordinary, one would think, but not so for these siblings. They showed up in school, clean and pristine and went on with their lessons. Meanwhile, in a bigger, better place in the middle of town, there was an uproar beginning to occur. The spiteful kids showed up, muddied, wrinkled, wet, and shivering. What happened, they were asked and the answer was, "the black kids pushed us into the creek".
There is a history here, I hope you are all aware, there is an attitude in the South that is long standing. In ’53, it wasn’t just an attitude, it was white man’s law. White comes first and foremost, blacks get out of the way or hang sway from a noose in the tree.
Now that you know the history, in this case on this day, history was about to repeat itself.
Word of the mean and brutal bunch of maraunding gang of black youths spread like wildfire. As the school day ended, the march of the Wave of Anger, made up of the parents of the kids that went to the school in the middle of town, began. As the Wave of Anger approached the little one room school on the edge of town, all that attended was just leaving for their homes. And after having their kids point out the gang of youths from that morning’s traumatic event, the Wave of Anger reached out and grabbed ahold of the ones that stood still there in fright. Amongst the yells for anyone that had a rope to hitch it to a tree, there came a small voice of reason. With the bravado of a crushing fool, the sibling’s friend begged all who would listen for a moment to nofify their parents of the loss of their young children. He begged for each life as if it was his own, heaping on the guilt with the kindly reminder that they would want the same for their own children. For that split second, it sounded fair to a bunch of loving parents and like the parting of the Red Sea, they allowed the children to pass and go home.
Although the kids were allowed to leave, the rage of fire had only subsided for that instance, and as with any fire, all it took was a small gust of wind to get it raging once again. The march of the Wave of Anger rolled once again. Towards the house of the siblings they marched, each holding in his hand a weapon of choice.
The Wave arrived to stand in the front yard of the siblings small home. Before anyone could yell, out of the front door walked their big and imposing chocolate skinned mom. The most noticiable thing about her was the shotgun she carried in her head, pointed at noone in particular, but loaded all the same.
And so began the wranglings of a deal of the century, your kids or all who resides in your home would perish. As she looked out from atop her front porch and scanned the faces of people she knew all to well, her blood boiled with fear that she was determined not to show. The only way, she figured, that she would get them to see how serious she was, was not to fight and argue, but to stand and die if she had to. There would be no haggling over her kids, she told them, that not one white man in the bunch had fathered her children so not one was going punish them, that was her job.
From the back of the Wave yelled a voice, " You can’t stop all of us from going inside and getting your kids!"
"I don’t plan on stopping all of ya, just the first ones who step up on this porch, I won’t be the only one walking funny and drinking coffee," was her reply.
And it was as if a great wall of water doused their flame, the Wave did it’s last grumbling and whispering, each wondering who would be first, but when that couldn’t be determined, they left with what they thought would be frightful parting words. She made sure they knew before they all left, that her kids would continue to go to town, go to school, or anywhere else in that town if they so chose to and not a hair would be touched on their heads, cause she also knew where all of them lived.
She sat on a chair that sat on her porch, preparing to spend all night there, rifle in hand, all night long. Inside of the small house, the floor, once pristine, was littered with scraps of torn clothing. Seven of her ten kids huddled together on one big bed, sniffling and wearing the remains of their once neat and clean clothing. As the scars of their punishment dried with blood along with their tears, they wandered into sleep knowing that tomorrow would be a school day just like yesterday’s. Only now they knew, it wasn’t the whites that they had to fear retribution from, it was a mom trying to raise her kids in a hostile world, even if she had to kill them herself to do it