One would assume on this morning, I’d still be on a high from the release of my freshman literary project as an e-book, “Facebook Statuses Turned Sermons” over the weekend. Though that did infuse an immense amount of excitement around the accomplishment (please go and check it out on Amazon)—the truth is, it wouldn’t come close to the joy beyond words for the encounter on Friday between Ms. Dwania Kyles, eldest daughter of the late Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, noted Civil Rights Leader and Pastor, and me. Christians observe the Good Friday holiday to commemorate the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Calvary’s Cross. During my conversation with Ms. Kyles, she explicitly illustrated the happenings of another crucifixion that happened not as long ago as Jesus’ crucifixion, right here in this county and in my own backyard of Memphis , TN. Our conversation took place at the Withers Collection Museum and Gallery (333 Beale St), only minutes and blocks away from the Lorraine Motel (450 Mulberry St.)-now the historical National Civil Rights Museum where this modern-day crucifixion took place.
You have to know me to understand why the moment was epic, downright amazing, and unforgettable to say the least. Ms. Kyles is a history maker herself. She was part of the Memphis 13 and was one of 13 first graders in October 1961 to desegregate Memphis City Schools. Ms. Kyles walked me through the happenings of April 3-4, 1968—no Google, no film, no book, a personal account through her lens as a 13-year old 8th grader. She still remembers the excitement of a dinner that was to be attended by the leader at her home the evening of April 4th, the days and years after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the role her father played, and why economics should be our ultimate focus.
She spoke to and awoken something within me, me the student of history and movement, the history teacher, and . the nationally-certified Civil Rights Museum tour guide. I was geeked and totally inspired. As a resident of this city, I took it all in. I’m a journalist, but this interview was nothing short of mini-documentary perfect. I thank you God for yesterday and orchestrating it all and ordering my steps accordingly. Thank you to Dr. Denise Lofton for making it happen.
To my city, I hope you all take a moment to take in the events happening today. #MLK50 Though the interview was a full 60-minutes, I captured the final 30 via Facebook live. These are moments that are forever etched. #grateful – so many nuggets in just 1-hour. I hope you’ll find the time to take a listen:
Just a few takeaways:
A. You don’t need to get permission to be present.
B. You have to love yourself first if we’re going to help and heal this country.
C. There wouldn’t be a movement without the black church and women!