did she really say that?


We were best friends up until that day.  I was always the type that had a best friend. Going to each others houses after school, talking on the telephone in the kitchen if we were able to get home before our younger sisters arrived…before our parents got home from work.  Together we watched TV in my kitchen, usually with a snack my mom had prepared the night before.  We were trusted ‘Junior High’ girls, interested…but not too interested in the opposite sex…still content to just be together after the frantic pace of school.

Our world was changing around us, but we were insulated by parents that loved us and our teachers that really understood the pre-puberty angst that many of us had started traveling through.  My social studies teacher was extremely interested in social justice issues- he taught us how to ‘discuss’ issues in a square arrangement around the room. Today we call it ‘Socratic discussions’. Mr. H. was young, energetic and he wanted us to start trusting our belief system and even our political views.

On April 4, 1968, we were at my house eating  chocolate, fudge brownies surrounded by creamy white ice cream.  Sitting in front of the fourteen inch TV in my kitchen, a news reel came across the screen.  It read….Martin Luther King Jr. had just been killed on a balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis Tennessee.

I was speechless.  Sandy smiled and said, “good, another one is dead”. 

I looked down into my white ice cream now puddled over the chocolate brownie and still said nothing. 

An aside:  as I’m writing this all these years later I regret not saying anything back to my friend, in fact right now I tear up as I write. In another couple of years I did become braver.  My teacher, Mr. H. had planted the seed,where I was, even in my self-centered little life.  I have told this story often…to my own children and to my own classes through the years.  Bigotry is scary…let us continue the fight for racial justice in our country.

About Nanc

lifelong teacher who is semi-retired (does this sound better?) who loves God, family and laughing... who hates social injustice... who wants to write every day... who needs to exercise every day... who blog hops... who wants to live her everyday life led by her savior, Jesus Christ!

6 responses »

  1. Your narrative is powerful and filled with imagery. I’m glad your teacher planted the seed to stand up for your beliefs. The brownie and white ice cream provides a strong image for the story too. I love your words “pre-puberty angst.” We’ve come so far from 1968 views. Your piece left me wondering if your friendship end slowly after that day.

  2. What a powerful story you tell! Your details in the first paragraph put me there with you silly girls enjoying a snack. But when I read your friend’s words a chill passed through my body. I could tell you struggled with her response. What a lesson you learned that day and it has impacted you the rest of your life. Thank you.

  3. Oh wow! I felt like someone hit me in the chest when I read what she said. I can just imagine you staring down at your plate, not sure how to deal with the fact that your friend just said that. Thanks for sharing this powerful moment in your life!

  4. Woah, I wasn’t expecting that from your friend at the end. I liked how you share about your teacher, Mr. H and the impact he had on you. I hope that I can plant a small seed in my students to have heart of compassion for all. This is a powerful story, I’m glad that you shared it with us.

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