My Whole World Was My Kinfolks
In the January 1st New
York Times, UMass alumna Unita Blackwell '83G was shown in front
of the house where she lived in rural Mississippi in the 1960s. "I
grew up in Coahoma County, on Mr. Hamilton's plantation in Lula, Miss.,"
the civil rights pioneer and longtime mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi,
told the Times. "My whole world was my kinfolks - when I was a little
girl, all I knew was my family." Briefly describing some of the difficulties
of her childhood and her subsequent involvement with the Mississippi Freedom
Riders and Freedom Democratic Party, which she helped found, Mayor Blackwell
concluded, "It seems like the whole century has been about overcoming.
Fighting and then overcoming. You had women's suffrage, and apartheid
and segregation. And we blacks lived in that lock-in, and somehow survived.
How, I do not know. Nothing but a God, I say. The whole era was full of
hate, but we're trying to overcome it, and we're headed for something
new, I just feel it. Maybe we are the group of people, the blacks in America,
that brought everyone to their worst, and then to their best. Including