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Monday, February 01, 2010

"They've messed with the wrong one now!"

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To read more about the Montgomery Bus Boycott, go here.
To read more about Rosa Parks, go here, or read her autobiography, Rosa Parks, My Story.
To see the story of the restoration of the bus, go here.
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89 comments:

Ginnie said...

Wow, Ruth. I sure hope Don prints this out and puts it up on his bulletin board at school. This may be the best synopsis I have ever seen of what Black History month is all about. One of the best things about it for me is the font you used. So simple but powerful.

BTW, that reminds me of all those Black History over-sized postcards I gave to Don last June for this month. I sure hope he hasn't forgotten about them! Maybe you can remind him?

Gwei Mui said...

Thanks for reminding ALL of us about this.
GM:)

Annie said...

What an impressive post.

Susan said...

WOW!!! Just WOW!!! Superb....your best post. Ever. And that's saying a LOT!

ellen abbott said...

Thanks Ruth. This was great. The fields at the end of our street have corn one year and cotton the next. Summer before last was a cotton year and I brought my grandkids to the edge of that field in the late summer when they were getting ready to harvest it and talked to them about being a slave and having to harvest that whole field by hand, not having enough to eat, being beaten. They learned about slavery in school, but standing on the edge of the field, cotton as far as they could see, talking about it really brought it home for them.

Cusp said...

This is so beautifully put together and such a brilliant piece of work.

I'm the same 'vintage as you --- well nearly -- 1956. I remember my grandmother in London in about 1960 decided to take in a lodger for extra money and company. The gentleman who lodged with her was a medical student from Nigeria. I remember that him that he always wore a suit, was impeccably dressed, had impeccable manners and was terribly sweet to my grandmother and me as a small child. He was also black...and this at a time where there were notices in bed and breakfasts, lodgings all over that said 'No Coloureds.' Black people were apparently OK if they nursed you, drove trains, buses, collected rubbish, worked in shops ...but not to live near or live with.

My grandmother loved having themedical student in her home and he was well loved by our family. He stayed at grandmother's house until he graduated.

BUT the neighbours she had known for maybe 30 or more years were appalled and questioned why on earth she would invite a 'Negro' to live in her home. Some refused to speak to here and some refused to come round for tea until after he had left. Some never came round again.

There's overt racism and hidden racism, overt apartheid and hidden. In U.K. there was no legislation against black people but there might just as well have been.

Deborah said...

Ruth, this is a post worthy of being spread all around the world, and I hope it is. You have done some important work today and taught me some things I didn't know. But most importantly, you have reminded us that the fact of oppression of people of African descent is not behind us. Would you have any objection to this being copied and pasted into an email so that its message can be spread more easily and widely?

This was a lot of work, obviously. Well done. Very well done.

Judy said...

Easy to read history lesson! Thanks so much.

Now can your next assignment be to explain when and how corporations got equal rights as a person.

I heard that is was by accident in a way.

Gayle Carline said...

Hurrah! Excellent post. I am a white woman married to a black man. It took all these folks and more to give us the freedom to marry the one we loved, without thinking about skin color. God bless them all.

Gayle
http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com

Deborah said...

Thanks for your OK, Ruth. I have done that and you just might eventually get it in your mailbox from somebody you know!
It really is superbly well done.

Babs-beetle said...

What a great post! Mo and I have watched that film - more than once.

It was hard for us (in the UK) to understand a lot of what went on in those days, though we also had a certain amount of problems. A white person might choose not to sit next to a black person. It did become more than that, effecting employment and such, but thankfully laws came into force to protect people from unfair treatment, due to the colour of their skin.

Kate said...

What a fabulous post! Well said!

dutchbaby said...

Fantastic enlightening post, Ruth! The calligrapher in me loves that you chose to write it out in your own hand in a fitting style that is unslanted and child-like in its simplicity.

I haven't seen the movie you featured but I am running over to Netflix right now to add it to my queue.

Thank you for all you do in this wonderful gathering place you've created here.

dutchbaby said...

P.S. Speaking of handwriting. I hope you don't mind but I've taken the liberty of carving my name in one of your chairs in this salon.

Patricia said...

Wow, you have taken on a gigantic topic and made it a real reminder to everyone. I still cannot believe that racism is so rampant in this country. It is astonishing to me when I see or hear racist comments made about the president and his wife. It breaks my heart.

Peter said...

Brilliant!!

I was brought up in a very "white" Sweden and my first experience of racial discrimnation was in the US in the 60's (still) as an exchange student! I was of course shocked when some friends ("normal", nice people) I had there decided to move because black people moved into the area. Racism is a long struggle! France today is not completely free of the problem either; on paper yes, but...

*jean* said...

great post ruth! i'm going to have my son read this when he gets home from school!

RoSe said...

Beautiful Post, thank you Ruth.

The Bug said...

Absolutely fabulous. Thank you.

Susan said...

Beautiful, beautiful job, Ruth. Creative, interesting and touching.
It should be seen by many - I'll put up a link in my blog within the next day or so and hope it helps spread it farther.

Teri said...

BEAUTIFULLY written and formatted. Thanks for blogging. BTW, the civil rights museum in Memphis is worth seeing too.

Vagabonde said...

This is a powerful post – by its contents and also visually. Growing up in France I was not aware of the racial problems in the US. At that time, at least from my family, I had never heard this type of stereotype. I had a black pen pal from Martinique. When I left for the US she came to France to go to nursing school. My parents gave her my bedroom and she became their daughter and my sister and we never thought about her pigmentation. So I was surprised when I came to the US in the 60s. Unfortunately I think that now France has racists people too – they are against the North Africans mostly. Unfortunately there will always be people who despise others for some reason, if it is not race, then religion, different political views, etc. When will we learn that we are all together on this little planet and we are all humans regardless of our skin colors, different views, beliefs – or accents. Your post is superb.

Nancy said...

Great writing. Although I grew up during this era, I learned a few new things today. Thank you for taking the time to write such an interesting and important post.

CottageGirl said...

You know Ruth, every time I think you've written your best piece ... you outdo yourself!
This post is so heart-felt, so informative! I never knew about Claudette Colvin!
I've got to tell you, from the beginning of our school year at story time, I choose stories about how you can not tell what a person is like by looking at the outside. I carry this theme throughout the year. I also have a couple of big poster in my classroom of MLK which I really never talk about until January.
Then I begin the story of slavery and the Civil War and Lincoln and eventually ending with the aftermath of MLK's assassination.
You know I teach First Grade ... relatively young students, but every year they sit spellbound at the story of the injustices put upon African-Americans. And through out the whole talk, I keep mentioning that you can't judge a person by what they look like on the outside. Then I read the first part of MLK's I Have a Dream Speech. I usually get teary-eyed at that part , because I can tell that they are getting it!
That day before MLK's Birthday is the BEST day of my school year!
Thank you for the inspiration!!!

Jo said...

This made me cry.

Rosa Parks was one of the most dignified people who ever lived.

What an amazing post.

rauf said...

A recently passed anti crime law requires criminals to give their victims 24 hours notice, either orally or in writing, and to explain the nature of the crime to be committed. - Law in Texas

The entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home.

It is illegal to dust any public building with a feather duster. - Texas

It is illegal to take more than three sips of beer at a time while standing - Texas

A city ordinance states that a person cannot go barefoot without first obtaining a special five-dollar permit. Texas

Doors of all public buildings must open outwards. - Florida

It is illegal to sing in a public place while attired in a swimsuit- Florida

This is the best Ruth

Men may not be seen publicly in any kind of strapless gown. - Florida

You are not allowed to break more than three dishes per day, or chip the edges of more than four cups and/or saucers. - Florida

It is illegal for anyone to give cats, dogs, or other domesticated animals a lighted cigar. - Illinois

In Baltimore, It is illegal to take a lion to the movies.

It is illegal for a woman to be on the street wearing "body hugging clothing." - NYC

In Oxford Ohio, It is unlawful for a woman to appear in public unshaven

You must believe in God to be elected into office - Tennessee.

What i want to say Ruth that we have been silly in the past and we continue to be silly.

The Vatican officially stated that our world is round in 1992

oh ! State of California guarantees sunshine to the people.
Ruth, you can sue the Government if its cloudy.

Sandy said...

Ruth you done outdid yourself with this post!! Wonderfully put together.

I'm bookmarking this page for sure.

renaye said...

thank u for the history. i learned something new.

Sidney said...

Excellent post...all schoolchildren should be required to read it !

Bella Rum said...

Wonderful post, Ruth. I remember those water fountains and public restrooms. It's hard to believe so many years have passed. So many brave people risked their lives for change. You did a great job on this.
Bella

Oliag said...

What a wonderful way to start Black History Month Ruth...and I am intrigued by your layout and the wonderful ways you have displayed photos...very nice!

A Woman said...

I'm not sure my comment posted...but I wanted to make sure you received a BRAVA! This is a remarkable post. The subject matter is near and dear to my heart! I adopted my niece as an infant, she is of mixed race. I witnessed the racisim of this country as she grew up and how it touched our lives. You could not have found a prouder parent the day she graduated with multiple degrees. Hopefully there will come a time when we celebrate all people!
Thank you for your remarkable post.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Boots. From beginning to end, it was a job to stay focused as much as possible. But there are just so many factors and so many issues and people and reasons things were the way the were, and still are for some. I'm glad the synopsis worked for you, because it just felt inadequate to me. I guess these summaries always are.

Yes, I will remind Don about those post-cards, thank you.

Ruth said...

Gwei Mui, it's been ages! How are you? How is London? I hope your work is going well. I hope you are well. Thank you so much for stopping by.

Ruth said...

Thanks for reading, Annie.

Ruth said...

Susie, thank you for that. I'm not quite sure how you do a person or a movement like this justice, but I tried.

Ruth said...

Oh Ellen, you created a window for your grandkids to look out of, into another kind of experience. Story telling is powerful, a way to connect people across time. Brava, my friend. I will remember that now that I have the image in my head. The cotton pickers' fingers would get bloody from the dried husks, and it was back breaking bending over to pick the bolls, in 110 degree sun.

Claudia said...

Wow! What a remarkable post! Absolutely briliant.

So many forms of discrimination subsist nowadays in spite of the considerable evolution of equality laws...

Unfortunately, while organized groups of people persist on treating other groups of people as inferior - be it because of race, culture, gender, body shape or religion - equal right laws are of limited practical consequence.

Ruth said...

Dear Cusp, thank you for telling the story of your grandmother. I wonder how she knew and understood how to be open to her Nigerian boarder, when so many around her didn't. Like my dad and his family too. I wonder how these things happen. It's easy to see how the other happens - the fear, the lies, the inability to understand someone different than you.

I was touched when my mother-in-law took a boy under her wing at her church. He came out as gay, in their Baptist church, as a teenager. He could no longer sing in the choir or teach Sunday School. She is a very conservative person who was never open to homosexuals. But because she knew and loved this boy, when he came out, she felt compassion for him and the rejection he faced. She asked why he couldn't keep doing what he'd been doing. Nothing had really changed. That really gave me hope, that if you know someone who is ostracized and stigmatized, you just might be more open to seeing into their world.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Deborah. I worked in a university office for seven years as the only white person. The other dozen people were black or Latino. We had a lot of conversations on race in those years, and I crawled out of my ignorance a little as a result. One day my Latino friend and I were talking about something to do with discrimination against blacks, and I knew that there are conflicts between these races generally, the way there are between whites and blacks. There is a lot of ignorance about the history of discrimination against Latinos, just as there is against Native Americans. But my friend said, "I really can't say anything about what it's like to be black, since I'm not black." That has stuck with me. Even though I can write about these events, it is from books and other media, not personal experience. But it's still important to remember, even if it's second or third hand.

Ruth said...

Judy, thank you. And yikes, there is something appealing about that challenge!

Loring Wirbel said...

Wow, your use of multiple fonts and colors to tell this story makes it worthy of printing into a physical booklet (remember those)? Might Red Cedar Review get involved?

(Anecdote - D.W. Griffith did an advance screening of "Birth of a Nation" in the Wilson White House, and one unnamed cabinet member allegedly said, "Like your KKK treatment. Woodrow and I were members of the Klan.")

Ruth said...

Gayle, your post on color blindness is quite synchronicitous, no? Thank you, your comment means the world to me.

Ruth said...

Thanks again, Deborah. Now I'm curious.

Ruth said...

Babs, I used to watch people cross the street rather than encounter a black person on the sidewalk on the same side. Yes, at least if the laws are in place, a person can hope to argue. But unfortunately, there is a lot of discrimination at every level for every reason imaginable. My black friend Sheree is sophisticated and beautiful. She said whenever she shops at the mall, a saleslady hovers, doesn't offer to help, just hovers, like she's afraid she will shoplift.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Kate, and thank you for your love of winter too.

Shattered said...

This is just beautiful. Well done, Ruth!

I had to smile about the "what color are they?" part because one of my sweet daughter's best friends is African American and they call each other "pink & brown because those colors go so good together". When they told her mother and me this, we both had tears in our eyes. :)

California Girl said...

Great stuff Ruth. The way you present the information really grabs the eye. I never knew of the other girls who went first although it makes perfect sense. I did know Rosa Parks was willing to participate but the back story on the other girl(s) makes it even more dramatic, if that's possible.

Segue, but I have to ask: how did you apply the font? Do we have that in blogger??

shoreacres said...

I had to read and re-read your almost casual aside, that Blacks were prohibited from trying on white clothing in department stores. Were they prohibited from trying on clothing generally, or were there literal proscriptions against trying on white blouses, shirts and such?

Of all the astonishing things I've heard about the days of segregation in the South, that's near the top of the list. It seems to suggest an almost primal fear as a reason for separating and regulating the races, as much as more "rational" social and economic reasons.

It's such a timely, informative post, and beautifully presented. I had to struggle a bit with the font, but that's no fault of the font itself. My aging eyes don't do so well with certain things any more!

Ruth said...

Oh no, Dutchbaby, if I'd written this by hand it would have taken 3 times as long as it did. I wish I could write that neatly, but no, it's a font called Sue Ellen Francis at picnik.com. I do love it. I created images for each paragraph. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work. I was also afraid it would slow down loading the page, but that didn't seem to happen, thankfully.

I think you'll enjoy "The Long Walk Home" - I'd like to see it again.

I love having your initials in that chair! Hmm, I wonder how I might create something visual on that note . . .

dutchbaby said...

Yes, I realized that once I started reading the comments of others. The variation in font size had me fooled but once I examined it more closely, I see that there is no variation within each letter. My comment still stands; you chose the perfect font for the reasons I stated.

Ruth said...

Patricia, the hugeness of the topic at times was so daunting I couldn't see how it would all come out with any focus. It was exhausting!

But I was fascinated to read the details Rosa shared in her book.

When the President gave his State of the Union address, I kept thinking about how many people must hate to see him in a position that at least symbolically represents the most authoritative role in the world.

Ruth said...

Peter, well the world has gotten so mobile that we are being introduced to all races right in our home country.

So, you were an exchange student! We had a Swedish boy in our high school when I was in 9th grade. He was dreamy. He was a soccer (footbol) player, but we had American football of course. So he was our kicker! I wish I could remember his name.

Ruth said...

Jean, Don said he showed the post to his students on his smart board today. Apparently they were more interested in the characters and poems on the sidebar. Chicken! Cat!

Babs-beetle said...

You're right, of course. I wonder if we will ever really be free of it.

Ruth said...

RoSe, I'm very glad you visited, for your kind comment, and to see that you hail from my beloved Rogue Valley! I spent one semester in 1976 in Ashland, Oregon and fell in love with that valley. I lived up the mountain 7,000 feet and saw my first stardust up there. You live in one very groovy spot. (Are you a retired hippie?)

Ruth said...

Thank you, Dana.

Jo said...

Dear Ruth,
This was an excellent, excellent read.Top Marks!Maybe I can post a link to it on my blog sometime?
Keep on educating us!

Ruth said...

Susan, thank you so much for that.

Ruth said...

Hi Teri, welcome to synch-ro-ni-zing. Thank you for your kind comment, and for the tip about the civil rights museum in Memphis.

Ruth said...

Vagabonde, it's hard to understand another person - it's hard enough to understand oneself. We tend to surround ourselves with what is comfortable and comforting. We go about our life, giving little thought to what we don't know or understand. When someone comes along who seems so different, we stare, or worse, we ostracize or mistreat, making assumptions about what we knowing of.

Long ago a friend who spent time in Morocco told us that he observed brothers fighting with each other. But when a neighbor had a dispute with that family, the brothers would join together against the neighbor. But if a family from another town picked a fight with that town, the neighbors would join together and fight the other town. On and on the ripple effect would go.

This is what happens when we feel that someone else is "other."

Ruth said...

Hi Nancy, I hardly knew any of it when it was happening. Well, I was just born for one thing. I remember something of the civil rights movement in the 60s. It wasn't until I worked in an office staffed primarily by blacks that I started understanding how important it is for growing black children to understand this history and give them confidence to move forward. Of course it is important for growing white children too, and all the races. It's amazing what happens when you find out about someone who is different than you.

Ruth said...

Hi CottageGirl, thank you so much. But I ran out of steam. There was so much more to say, more stories to tell. Like how Clifford and Virginia Durr helped Rosa and the boycott. I never knew about Clifford Durr and how he spent his entire career working against injustice, it's just astonishing. I should write a post about him, and it still wouldn't be enough. His wife Virginia befriended Rosa at a time when it was highly suspect for a white and black woman to be friends. She accompanied Mr. Nixon to get Rosa released on bail. Her husband eventually lost jobs because of her fight against racial discrimination. Oh there are so many stories to be told.

I love love love reading what you do in your first grade classroom. It's clear that what you do and how you do it engages the kids and connects with their hearts as well as their minds. Bless you for that. Well, it's obvious you are blessed, every year.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Jo. It's nice to have you stop by.

Rosa had a lot of pride in herself, even as a little girl. She learned to read from her mother who was a teacher, when she was just 3 or 4. She was pushing back against discrimination from a very early age. But her family kept telling her to shush or she would end up hurt or dead.

Ruth said...

rauf, sadly, people believe and follow silly rules and beliefs.

My son-in-law Brian just posted this in Facebook, from the msnbc web site.

POLL: WHAT REPUBLICANS BELIEVE:

From NBC's Mark Murray

A new Research 2000 poll of more than 2,000 Republicans, conducted for the liberal blog Daily Kos, has some eyebrow-raising findings:
-- 63% of them believe President Obama is a socialist
-- 53% believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Obama is
-- 39% believe he should be impeached
-- 36% believe he wasn't born in the United States
-- 31% believe the president hates white people
-- 24% believe the president wants the terrorists to win
-- 23% believe their state should secede from the union

The poll was conducted Jan. 20-31, and it has a margin of error of +/- 2%.

Ruth said...

Hi Sandy, thanks.

My breath is still taken after seeing your rose header image.

shoreacres said...

Ruth ~ I woke this morning seeing your image of the white shirts blowing in the breeze. Perhaps if we can keep implanting such astonishing images and truths in people's minds, the changes that must come, will come.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Sidney.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Bella. Yes, the blacks risked their lives. The whites, like Clifford Durr, risked their careers and jobs. He actually lost jobs because of the close work his wife did supporting blacks.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Oliag. I confess, this was a lot of work, and I ran out of umph before I was finished, which meant I didn't cover the actual events surrounding the year of the fight after Rosa sat. That could fill another big post or two. Or 100.

Ruth said...

Hello and welcome, A Woman, and thank you. It's heartbreaking, what you say. But so uplifting too. You deserve the major BRAVA, not me. Thank you for the real life work.

Ruth said...

Yes, Claudia. One thing I hate so much that I boil is racial profiling. I heard someone say the other day, "he looked like a terrorist" - talking about a man wearing a galabiyya and a skull cap, with a big thick beard. I was horrified and ashamed, and sadly I was silent. It was a person in authority, and I didn't speak out of respect. But I should have. She needed to be challenged to see that how she perceived him is not the only way.

Ruth said...

Loring, hmm, it would be fun to do booklets like this. Poor RCR is down to one issue a year, and we don't even know if that will survive budget cuts.

Now that bit of trivia about Wilson is not trivial and is incredibly disgusting. I had no idea.

Loring Wirbel said...

Ruth, some Wilsonians are almost as bad in the cultist department as LaRouchies. I know this wonderful, aging professor-emeritus at Colorado College who worships Woodrow Wilson's memory. I keep pointing out that, even if the League of Nations could have been implemented fairly, Wilson was almost as big an imperialist and racist as Teddy Roosevelt. And my professor friend goes ballistic. Now that he's in his early 80s, I have to be careful about goading his cult behavior.

Jeanie said...

All I can say is 'wow.' Fascinating (especially the part about your dad preaching the sermon and substituting and getting called up on it.) This is powerful and provocative. I could see it being animated and a video. Bravo.

Ruth said...

Shattered, now that's the best thing I've heard all week. I do love brown - by itself, and with every other color.

Ruth said...

Thank you, California Girl. Oh, no this isn't Blogger. I created images at picnik.com, with the Sue Ellen Francis font.

gemma said...

Yay Yay Wonderful post. I read the MLK story to a class of 5th graders.
They wanted to know if that was really a true story. It does seem unreal.Teaching new generations about black history is so important....

Ruth said...

Oh Linda, I'm sorry about the font. And it just kept coming!

I was as stunned as you by the prohibition about trying on white clothes. I had not heard about it until I read information about Claudette Colvin, and how that was what was in her mind and the paper she'd written about it that day, when she refused to relinquish her seat. From what I read, it was only white clothes that were prohibited. I don't know if there were signs posted, or if it was just a given that everyone knew and sales ladies enforced.

When the messages just keep getting shoved down your throat, I guess you either submit, or you get stronger inside. And then you link arms and do something about it.

Ruth said...

Thank you very much, Jo, what an honor. Please feel free to link away.

All the best for you and the beauty growing inside you.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, thanks so much. I vaguely remember other stories, like my parents having blacks eat meals with them, and it was frowned upon.

People like the Durrs in this story gave their entire lives to helping those who were unjustly mistreated and worked to change the laws that kept them that way.

Ruth said...

Hi Gemma, yes. These stories seem like they wear thin over time. We hear the names and they go into some place of familiarity in our heads. Then I read a new piece of information about that time that startles me, and my heart is touched again.

Montag said...

Well done!
You make us all proud to be associated with your blog!

ds said...

Brava, Ruth, brava!!! As others have said, this is the best summation of what the bus boycott, Rosa Parks, and Black History Month mean that I have ever read (so much I did not know: Claudette, the proghibition against trying on clothes (!), the early organization)
The following was written by children on a poster that was hung in a house in a town not far from here during the 2008 presidential campaign:
Rosa sat so that
Martin could walk so that
Barack could run so that
Our children will fly

Ruth said...

Montag, çok teşekkür ederim, arkadaşım.

Ruth said...

Thank you, dear DS. When I got to the film clip when Whoopi's character says, "we're gonna be elected to office" I just sat astonished, because I never thought when I saw this movie that we would see an African American president in our lifetime.

All children fly when people are treated with respect. We watched "Milk" last night, and I just wasn't connected with the gay rights movement in the 70s. I'm so glad to know more about what was fought for and accomplished then. My sister was married to a woman in Amsterdam Friday, partly because people like Harvey Milk fought for her to be able to do that in Europe. I await the day when they can do it here in the U.S. I hope it will happen in their lifetime. Do you know, their legal marriage won't even be recognized by the U.S.?

RE Ausetkmt said...

BEAUTIFUL, and Thought Provoking. I went to school in Detroit and we weren't segregated in the 1960's. however when I went downsouth to South Carolina for a semester, there were White and Colored Schools and Busses. it was quite a suprise to look up and see no whites in my school. not a single white face. I've got a picture sitting in the very seat that Mrs. Parks sat in on that very same bus, that I took in 2005 for my birthday - right after the bus arrived. I made it my business to try to get as much of the experience as possible before those younger than me, forget it all. I remember so many things, so many things..

I've subscribed and will be linking to your post later this week. it is truly a pleasure to know that another thinking Blackwoman is out there in Michigan. Take Good Care, and Come by my blog soon, please.

Ruth said...

Hello and welcome, RE Ausetkmt. Thank you for telling your story, what an experience to move to the south as a child and feel that change.

Thank you for the honor you've given me, to link up, and to think of me as a thinking Blackwoman. In my heart maybe I'm Everywoman, I don't know if I'm that, but let this Whitewoman Everywoman welcome you here, my friend.

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