Saturday, 15 February 2014

Black History Month. Mama Jordan

Today black history's entry is about the most amazing woman I know.
Mama Jordan.
Today is my mother's 80th birthday.
She chose a quiet celebration of Chinese Food and rocky road ice cream. But that hasn't stopped the phone calls from her family and friends wishing her a blessed birthday.
I always thought it was so cool that Mummie was born smack in the middle of Black History Month.
Even better, I can look at my mother's life and see how far this nation has come in terms of race relations and how far we still need to go.
My mother was born in Alabama, the year 1934. A Depression Baby, mummie was the youngest of seven children to Callie and Pink Prude.
An early bird, Mummie finished high school at age seven-teen, going on to business school to begin her career as an Office Administer. This included her position as an office account and later becoming a legal secretary of the Boston Law firm, Hill and Barrow. 
Born Maggie Lee, as an adult mummie changed her name to Margaret, a clear sign that she was in charge of the life G-d has given her. To this day, few, other than nieces and nephews, get away with calling her Maggie.
Marriage wasn't the cards for Mummie, though she did try. She and my step-father separated, but never divorced. She had two children, Elayne and Eileen. Both proved in her words to be: "a delight and a challenge."

During her growing up years, we were known as "Negros" and "Coloured." By the time my sister and I were growing up, we were "Blacks" and today "African American." But she always made my sister and I aware of who we are, as Americans as well as women of colour, for she has always been proud of both. She made sure we knew our culture as Blacks and as Americans, making sure we knew that the two were interwoven.
I remember the summer day in 1968, when the afro was beginning to take hold. Black men and women alike were embracing the ethic look that was our own. Dad had already gotten his afro and cut and framed mummies'. Eileen was need and then I. Mummie sat me down and we had a heart to heart about this. I loved my long hair (it was down my back) and getting my hair cut that short was a huge step. Once it was gone, it couldn't be glued back on. But I really thought I wanted it and when Dad was finished, I cried buckets, holding my hair. Only Mummie could comfort me, reminding me it was my choice, that she warned it was going to be a drastic change, not only in my looks, but just losing so much hair. How wise she was, to allow me to make that choice, making clear I knew the consequences of that choice.
I look back and see how many times my mum warned me of an course of action; sometimes I listened, sometimes, I didn't. These days, I have learned to not only listen, but to follow her words of wisdom.
One of the greatest lessons from my mother, she never allowed us to blame anyone or anything for our failures or bad choices. The world would be crude; we knew that. There would be people would not like us because of our skin colour, our faith, that we were Americans, women and all the above. But that was no excuse for not trying.
Yes, there were roadblocks, but not like the ones she grew up with. She grew up during a time where her skin colour decided what school she could attend, where she sat on the bus and what church she could worship at. I had no such concerns.
There were places where she could only go through the back door, use the water fountain or washroom marked "Coloured."
And despite all of this, she rose to the top of her chosen career and is today honoured by men and women from all walks of life.
I often tell Mummie I want to be just like her when I grow up. She just laughs.
Living in Montana, I don't see her as I would like, but I am blessed to speak to her very few days, hearing her voice, her laugh lifting my spirits during my struggles.
My role model, my chief cheerleader, my friend, my mum.
I am so truly blessed to have this amazing lady in my life.
I love you, Mummie.
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