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Adult female marcher

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 9 months ago

Rachael Western


March on Washington

Adult Female Marcher

Period one

Feb. 25, 2008



I am so hot!  My knees are weakening and my arms feel like they have had ten pounds strapped to them.  I have to keep my mind straight and forget about my situation and my pain. I have to think about what I am accomplishing right now; something that my ancestors died trying to fix!  I have to put mind over matter.




Three weeks earlier, on an anything but typical Wednesday night, my family is late for supper.  I have my six month old girl in my arms and I am praying that my husband and teenaged boy are all right.  They are out walking the streets of Birmingham protesting against racial discrimination.  I am trembling with fear.  There are only two thoughts running through my head.  The first thought is what if the march turns into a riot and my husband, Jeremiah, and my son, Nick, get hurt or killed.  The other thought is more pleasant; what if the march actually helps.  What if we can get a Civil Rights Act passed.  Well, all I can do right now is pray that my boys are all right and that we accomplish something. 




I have just awakened.  I had fallen asleep waiting for Jeremiah and Nick to get home.  But there is a problem.  I only see one shadow walking up the stairs.  I immediately get off the couch to see who is walking in the house.  As I get closer, I see my husband crying and holding one of the dearest things to me in his arms.  My darling son is lying in my husband's arms.  He has blood dripping from his precious head.  I burst into tears.  Jeremiah sets him down on his bed and comes back downstairs to explain to me what has happened.  He tells me that he volunteered to get up and make a speech about how bad racial discrimination is.  But, while he was making his speech a white man disapproved of what he was saying.  He pulled a gun, and bang, Nick was lying on the ground with a bullet in his head.  I don't understand I say.  It wasn't supposed to end this way.  He should be alive right now! I prayed.  Why didn't God help me?  I prayed.  My husband calms me down and says, "Only God knows what is going to happen.  Don't blame this on him.  He is going to make everything turn out okay."


The past few days have been very hard on me. It feels like the baby is crying more in the night and waking me up.  It feels like the days have had six hours added to them, and I have yet to get over Nick's death.  I just wish that there was a way to go back in time and fix everything; make life the way that I want it to be, peaceful.  I try as hard as I can to be jaunty and be the same way I was before, but it isn't working.  Jeremiah still comes home, sits down and says nothing.  He doesn't play with Maria who is screaming and crying.  I just want to be a happy family of four again, not three.  In fact, that is what makes me so sad.  Being a family of four was very enjoyable.  We have a table that is a square so each person gets a side.  Now we have a permanently empty side.  When this finally got to me was last night.  I was setting the table for supper and did my normal routine; four plates, then four spoons, forks, and knives, four napkins, and four glasses.  Except when Jeremiah got home and Maria and I sat down, there wasn't a body to fill the fourth chair.  There wasn't a fourth person to talk during our conversations.  There wasn't a person to fill that last side.


Jeremiah sent a message home via our neighbors that he has great news.  He asked me to prepare the best meal that I could and be ready to be embraced with the greatest news that I have received in a long time.  So I have gone to the grocery store.  I am going to make pork with vegetables.  It was Nick's favorite, but we all enjoyed it.  When I get home I prepare it quickly.  I am very anxious to here what the good news is.  I have been waiting for my living nightmare to end.  And, by the way Jeremiah is acting, it sounds like I have just awakened from my nightmare.  I finished preparing the meal and I am pacing around the house; up the stairs, down the stairs, into the bedroom, out of the bedroom, and around the kitchen.  Then I hear the door open.  I nearly drop the baby for the excitement that is taking over my body.  Jeremiah calmly comes in and sits down, making me wait.  My impatient side gets control of me and I grab him, sit him down, and beg him to tell me what the good news is.  He starts his story about how he went to another protest during his lunch break form the factory.  And then says, "After we were done protesting we went into an old warehouse.  We were going to discuss our next step in fighting racial discrimination.  And one man went up to the front of the room to talk about a life altering event that we all could be a part in.  Martin Luther King Jr. is leading a march through Washington D.C.  He is planning on walking from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial where he will deliver a speech titled “I have a dream”.  The man went on to say how we could get to Washington from Birmingham.  I look up at my husband and said, "Wow honey that was quite a story!  Are you going to march?  He looked at me like I was from outer space and said, "Of course I am going to march, I owe this to Nick.  I need to be strong and overcome racial inequality my son died trying to stop.  I might as well make it worth dying for".  I was astonished at how brave my husband was being.  His words were so incredibly powerful that I thought at one point that they were going to knock me down.  We finished up our meal and then I tucked-in Maria and went to bed.  I had a dream about what the march would look like and pictured my husband in it.  However, every time that I tried to see my husband I saw myself.  I would wake up shake my head and then try to picture my husband marching again, but every time I did I just saw my self.  I saw myself with a picket sign in one hand and a tissue for the tears streaming down my face in the other. 


 It is now morning and I wake up my husband with great news.  I have decided that I am going to march.  And, I tell him about my dream.  I have already figured things out.  He could stay home with Maria and while he was at work our neighbors could watch her.  I could tell from his eyes that he didn’t like my plan.  He said that he would have to think about it and that he would give me an answer on whether I could or could not go, that night.  I didn't say it aloud, but I knew in my mind that despite his decision, I was going to march.



Oddly, while we were eating dinner tonight, my husband agreed with my plan.  He said that he agreed and was happy to see me getting involved in our nation’s darkest years.  He told me the date of March through Washington and told me some of our friends that I could ride to Washington with.  So the next day I talked to the Wexlers.  They have been family friends for forever.  They said that Frank (the father) and Paul (his 14 year old son) were going and that I could ride with them.  I was getting so excited.  August 28, I would be making a difference in the world. 


Okay it is show time.  I am just now going over to the Wexlers house.  They wanted to leave a day early in case we get lost or anything bad happens.  The ride to Washington surprisingly went by fast.  It felt like in a blink of an eye we were there.  We rented a room in a motel for the night, although, we didn't even need the beds because all of us were just too excited to sleep.  We wake up the next morning with the sun shining as bright as it could be.  I just think to myself, this is God's way of saying that everything is going to be okay.  He is going to give us a beautiful day to be outside.  We each get something to eat and rush out of the room to make sure we aren't late.  In fact, when we get to the Washington Monument, we are an hour and a half early.  So we sit and talk, and talk, and talk.  Finally it is now time. But it is so hot.  I am drenched with sweat from sitting there baking in the sun. But the conditions aren't going to affect the march.  We will still march and will march proudly.  About half way through the march, I start thinking about the heat again.  I keep on saying over and over to my self, “I am so hot!”  My knees are weakening and my arms feel like they have ten pounds strapped to them.  I have to keep my mind straight and forget about my situation and my pain.  I have to think about what I am accomplishing right now.  I am accomplishing something that my ancestors and son died trying to fix!  I have to put mind over mater, and keep on marching one step at a time. 


 After repeating this to myself over and over again I look up and notice something amazing.  I notice the amount of people, their races, and their ages.  There are a quarter of a million people here.  There are a lot of whites marching, and there are people from six years of age to seventy years of age.  It was astonishing.  This must be what keeps me going; to see how many others can survive this heat and still keep a smile.  I now know that I can do it too.  About twenty minutes later we were at the Lincoln Memorial.  I am so glad to finally get the chance to sit down and listen to Dr. King speak.  His voice just carried for miles and miles.  His speech was moving.  I pulled out that tissue that I pictured in my dream. I wipe off the streams of tears that were flooding my face.  But in my dream I was crying because of sorrow.  Now I am crying tears of joy.  I am just so proud about how far my race has come.  We are now marching in our nation's capital.  It won't be long before African-Americans are working in our nation's capital.




The march is over and so is Dr. King's “I have a dream” speech.  We are loading  up into the car happy about what we just accomplished.  All the way home we discussed about how we thought that August 28, 1963 will be the turning point for our country.  Just one march through Washington is going to help us get the Civil Rights Act passed.  And I, Vanessa Dee Jackson, was apart of it!













































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