Monday, February 8, 2016

Black Family History

A friend whose blog I follow posted on her Fb page a statement which reads, in part, “If you have a blog don’t you feel obligated to do something special for Black History Month …?”

I agreed, immediately. Problem is I am brand new to this blogging thing; and I didn’t have any clever, interesting ideas like Lori who decided to weave her love of books and her love of Black hair into a literary celebration of Blackness. But when I mentioned Lori’s Black History observance to my sister she told me that she wanted to do something on the Black History within our family.
Welp, my sister doesn’t have a blog so I stole (yup I said stole) her idea. And yes, I realize that I am already a week behind, but … refer to problem noted above. So late and all, I plan to observe (the remainder of) Black History Month by celebrating family history, and I invite you to join me by celebrating the history of your family too.
Be advised that your family history doesn’t have to be remarkable or newsworthy. The only requirement is that it has somehow influenced or contributed to the shaping and making of you: how you parent, how you worship, your work ethic, your politics, your style, your intellect, your artistry, your career path/s, your financial literacy, your celebration rituals, your warrior spirit, your peacefulness and resolve, etc. Celebrate the history makers in your life!

I begin with a celebration of my Aunt Clara: Rev. Clara Delores (Peterson) Dockery, RN; March 4, 1929 – October 13, 2011.

My Aunt Clara graduated HS in 1946 and wanted to go to nursing school but was repeatedly denied because there were very few schools that admitted women of color. She persisted in her quest for two years before finally being admitted to the nursing program at Jewish Hospital (now the Albert Einstein Medical Center) in 1948. Her first nursing appointment was at Lankenau Hospital. My Aunt Clara was also a proud veteran of the US Armed Forces. Her nursing degree allowed her to enter the Army as a 1st Lieutenant, and she served two tours of duty during the Korean War working both stateside and abroad. She reentered civilian life as a nurse with Burlington Co Memorial Hospital, Mt Holly, NJ. When she retired from nursing she became a minister and served on the clerical staff of the Tyree AME Church until her death.
That’s what Aunt Clara did, but that’s not who she was. She was funny, and loving and kind and generous to a fault. She was a devout family woman: wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunty.  She was a woman of personal resolve who found a way to respectably rise from the hardships of divorce without bitterness. She was a foster parent, a woman of community who thought it her responsibility to help raise the children in her village. She was a woman of dignity who lived out her life’s calling without fanfare. That’s who she was, and I miss her sometimes. But I don’t always miss her because sometimes I am her.

Who are the history makers in your life?

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