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Monday, January 21, 2013

To: Mrs. Williams

I am writing this as one who grew up in the time and place of change. I was a part of all that was happening, but was too young to fully understand what was happening. Here at the start, I want to acknowledge my gratitude to Mrs. Williams, an African-American teacher at my Elementary School who guided children like me through the transitions (and it is with great joy I have always called her MRS. Williams). I loved Mrs. Williams then and she still holds a special place in my heart because of how she took care of us in those times. When I moved, I cried and I kissed her. She is the first woman (relatives excluded) I ever kissed.

The significance of what was happening is partially due my age and partially because of, let’s just call them “life adventures.” I was entering Fifth grade and already had enough life adventures to keep me distracted enough to understand. The school district was moving all Fifth-graders from all over the district to open a charter school. The most important feature of this action was the school being formed: Bethune Elementary. A recent internet search indicates the school is still active despite present-day changes.

Mrs. Williams prepared us for the move and she did so with so much grace and wisdom that (I believe I am safe to say) we simply accepted it. We trusted her because her preparations affected the way we saw each other as human beings and we found unity, being all men created equal. We children were happy to be on the crest of the wave. We where white children who would be bussed into a black neighborhood to attend a school named after the civil rights educator, Mary McLeod Bethune.

Oh, times were exciting and life adventures eventually swept me away from Bethune Elementary and Mrs. Williams, but I will never forget her. What Mrs. Williams gave me is still precious because I see people in a different way than others.  Mrs. Williams was (to borrow from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr) one of the few non-violent gadflies that helped others “rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.” Thank you for waging positive peace. Mrs. Williams, you are one reason my family are minority in our neighborhood where we have been continuing to wage peace for years, in Jesus’ name, our Prince of Peace.

Dr. King wrote from Birmingham, “Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do what is right.”

That which was instilled in me exists because somebody had a dream and somebody found it worth pursuing.

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