Listen to Ms. T 's recording of "LINKS, LINEAGE, MEMORIES and More, A (nother) Perspective" here.
So much is going on that I had a little trouble getting started but hearing Butch’s Zoom opening thing about fat something aint greasy….here goes!
LINKS, LINEAGE, MEMORIES and More, A (nother) Perspective
Trying not to awaken her again, my almost a week and a half to go b4 94 year old mom asleep nearby. I begin this tome.
After mom awakened from her Friday afternoon nap which lasted most of the evening, I was watching the Rachel Maddow Show as the sentencing of convicted former police officer Derrick Chauvin was being discussed. I had to remind her of George Floyd and the ensuing results surrounding his death. With the Chauvin sentencing, I realized that I would be in my early nineties when he is scheduled to conclude his sentence. Smh. Wow!
This has one (me) thinking of all the historic moments I have had in my lifetime. One day alone had the release of Bill Cosby on a technicality as his conviction was vacated (not going anywhere near a guilty or innocent discussion) along with the anticipated legalities surrounding the pending Trump organization NY DA case as well as the formation of the House’s January 6, 2021 panel and the pronouncements expected from the Supreme Court as it ends its current session.
Pop-up George Floyd Mural At DTLR on Avenue of the States
I can also add the assassinations of Dr King, John and Bobby Kennedy and Brother Malcolm, the life-changing wars, 9 Eleven, the election of both an African American US President and just this year, an AA female VP. Add to that the lost election and the Big Lie, the death of State Rep. John L. Lewis and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Add to this mix the many performances of the great entertainers of the era leaves me in wonder and awe. Who would have thought that Juneteenth would become a national holiday while voter suppression bills are passing and pending and the stall of a National Voter Rights legislative bill.
Remember the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots have just recently become more common knowledge. Thank goodness that 3 survivors remember and their stories were documented so that they could be shared.
Ms. T poses with a traveling display from her Black Chester History Repository
Meanwhile, here in Chester, its history continues to unfold with the on-going unrest within the school district and its days old decision to not sell even more of it to for-profit and charter entities and yet another new superintendent (who’s keeping track). Bless his heart…Dr Baughn is retiring (again) while the city remains in receivership as the formation of a health department is still under discussion as the Covid 19 Pandemic, Year 2 add Delta, takes yet another turn.
Whew, my head is spinning! Remembering too, the recent times that I needed to refer to the history of the city, of the school district, and the great difficulty finding accurate information so I began to bolster and utilize my own archives.
Think about the number of CHS principals in the past 40+ years. How many? What about superintendents? There used to be a certain Math department head who kept a tally…ijs. I remember too, being given permission to form an Alumni Association for Chester High School. Given several locations within the high school building, with the rapid change of building and central administration during my 35+ year tenure, it didn’t happen. Glad to see though, that this vision was shared by former students David Clements and Cephas Richardson evolving into the now much more viable organization coordinated by CHS alum Alicia (Stewart) Martin so that volunteer mentors with credentials and clearances in place are acting as mentors for high school students as well as year 2 of the distribution of grad boxes supported greatly through alumni donations. Thanks goes out to Alicia Martin, Shannon Matthews and Jackie Irving Watson as coordinators.
Memorabilia from the Chester Upland Alumni Association & Friends to the CUSD Class of 2020
Although there are many classes still staying connected thru activities and class reunions, an outstanding pace-setter group would be the Class of 1976 whose member Dr. ‘Tank’ Cooper was the 2021 Graduation Speaker. There is great anticipation of their 45 year reunion happening this September. 76’er Retiring Judge Spencer Seaton was also just honored last weekend and his classmates were there in force (as usual). Congrats and carry on 76’s4Life!
Retiring Judge Spencer Seaton with childhood buddy and fellow 76’er Theresa (Terry Johnson) Wilmore
Maybe, just maybe, someone (besides me) will document and archive all those other memories of our city’s educational history. My collection of yearbooks and grad programs can help with that documentation. Wondering too if school archives are still evolving and intact as the library at the high school is TBD. Wondering too about the actual city archives and their state of preservation. What stories await to be told and shared from them… Huummmm.
I also wanted to mention the sparce documented history of the very popular and oldest, continuously recurring parade in US history our very own Chester’s Mother’s Day Parade. Who knew?
Add to that history all of the musical talent hailing from Chester and the list is lengthy but includes solo artist singer John Carr, noted Grammy Award winning Jahlil Beats and the local but very popular Raising Kane Band. The DJ’s from our city are noteworthy as well which includes former student DJ Deuxrelle and a relative or two of mine (right Kyne) and don’t forget DJ Cory AK, perhaps better known today as the driving force behind his Making A Change Group.
Chester artists at the Illuminate Chester block party event in June 2019
Smiling as I shake my head. We do have history, folks. We do. It lives in all of us…in our memories. Stop and Remember. Use that brain muscle (muscle as the operative word and still tbd but for the sake of this purpose…). Recall all of those things in your life actually worth remembering.
As the season of family reunions, summertime, “outside” opening up once again, Remember and Reflect. If we don’t preserve our own history, who will tell our story. The Chester Made Digital Storytelling project is certainly an option. Chestermade.org
I am diligently working on the Greenlawn Cemetery Restoration Project. Those buried there have a history and a story. Who will tell those stories?
Click here to watch a video of Ms. T reflect on the stories of those buried at the Greenlawn Cemetery.