Thursday had arrived.
It would be a long day, not for me, but for adults. The teachers, volunteers, and parents involved in the school play would have long days. Me and the other kids, we would have fun being kids, not taking life seriously, just going with the flow. We would practice some during an extended lunch break, and then we would come back to school before the play started to go over some more lines. I was ready for my part, except for one thing. I needed a white shirt. I also didn’t tell my mom or the Big O, that I needed a white shirt for that night. To ensure we got to the school in time, and it being nightfall already, my teacher, Mrs. Caple, picked me and mom up and gave us a ride back to the school.
The school play, about the forefathers of Virginia, ) who all happened to be white men I would discover later, and I am still searching for black forefathers without any luck), brought in a packed house. I would be posing as Patrick Henry, with my long black coat (I think they gave me a hat to wear) I think I was the last person. When I recited Mr. Henry’s words “Give me liberty or give me death,” while pounding my fist on the podium, the spectators (parents, kids, visitors and school neighbors) all gave a loud, and extended round of applause. I would compare it to fighter jets flying over a stadium or track at the end of the National Anthem. The people identified with it. It’s as if it spoke to their souls. As a child learning about these Virginia legends, I also was in tune with this speech, feeling the electricity of a liberty I didn’t know I had, just by reciting those words.
The words sounded so good and still do. Would I let my child recite those words? I am sure Patrick Henry spoke with fire and passion. I wonder how many black people attended the rally? Well, slaves is what I really meant. In the midst of the fight for freedom and independence from the crown, each African, Native American and generations thereafter probably cried the same speech from within. The need for liberty probably worn on their faces like a sign.
That was then.