BHM and a True Family Inspiration

Good Evening! I wish Black History Month was longer, there’s just so much to write about. I love every member of my family, but today I am going to focus on one younger female family member who really impressed me this past week. Meeko is my niece’s daughter, my great niece. Over the years as our families grew, grew up and spread out, we did not spend a lot of time together. Until my mom died in 2010 we used to gather at mom’s place for holidays and whatnot. On special occasions we would take day trips to a relatives house, say for a baby shower. My point is that I did not see a lot of Meeko as she grew up. And after mom died I did not get to see her at all unless pictures or videos were posted on social media. When her parents posted about Meeko it was usually to share about the fact that Meeko loved softball. And she was good. She got into the sport at about age 4. Over the years she continued to excel in the sport. Her parents were always there to take her to games in and out of town. It was cool to watch her progress.

Today I went online and I found mention of Meeko and her dad from 2013. According to DAVE SHOWALTER Fontana Herald News July 18, 2013: The Fontana Pony Softball 10U All Stars won the Pony Zone Tournament last Sunday in Redlands. Meeko Harrison pitched four strong innings, striking out five. Manager Mike Harrison (Meeko’s father) was very proud of their accomplishments and thanked not only all the players, but also his coaches and parents for all their support. This is the first time I have seen this article. It impresses me.

Today Meeko is a member of the uksoftball (University of Kentucky) team. Her father is there in Kentucky, visiting, watching his daughter play after eight months or so of not seeing her due to the pandemic. According to the school’s news team, the Kentucky Softball team is off to its best start in program history at 13-0, after winning games against Stetson and New Mexico State on day two of the 2021 Spring Games at Legend’s Way Ballfields in Clermont, Florida. The school paper listed stats for Meeko from past years:

Has lettered in softball four years at Etiwanda High School
Has hit .495 and .490 in her last two years of high school softball
Received the team MVP award in 2019


In my mind, Meeko has always been about softball. Or baseball. I would wonder what is she going to do when she grows up? Are there grown-up women softball teams? Will she make money that way? Of course, I never asked her or her father or her mother. They were just random thoughts. A few days ago I came to the realization that Meeko is not all about just softball. She is now an 18 year old female with thoughts and dreams and opinions. She is someone who has studied life and has come to conclusions. She is a beautiful Black woman who has studied and is knowledgeable about the Black women who have come before her. She is proud of herself and of her people. And she just happens to love and excel at softball. I am proud of my great-niece.

In the photo above she quotes Marian Anderson. Marian Anderson performed a wide range of music, from opera to spirituals. She performed with renowned orchestras in major concert and recital venues throughout the United States and Europe between 1925 and 1965. Anderson was an important figure in the struggle for African-American artists to overcome racial prejudice in the United States. She participated in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, singing at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Anderson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963. She died in 1993 at age 96. Her story is worth looking into.

Meeko evidently read up on Ms. Anderson. She says that the above quote is her favorite quote. I’m sure she has read quotes from many other women and men. She has a desire to share her own thoughts through the words of women like Marian Anderson, and has done so. She has shown me that there are many young Black women today who have educated themselves and are ready to speak out and be heard. And they are right here within our families. I find that I am quite proud of Meeko Harrison.

Also, I was happy to be able to inform her that my mother, her great-grandmother, Norma, studied voice with Mme. Sara Cahier, Ms. Anderson’s voice coach. How cool is it that Meeko’s favorite quote came from a woman who shared the same voice coach with her great-grandmother back in the 1940s. This is our Black Family History. Ongoing and fantastic. Every day.

Thanks, for stopping by. ūüôā



We Are Family-Connected

My family is connected with an important part of history. In the book I have written about my father I included a chapter on my mother, Norma. I don’t write about her often, except on Mother’s Day and when the date of her death comes around or the date of her birthday, which is on November 17th. This is Norma about 4 years before she married my father. But the history I want to write about started with my maternal grandmother.

 

My mother’s mother was born in 1896, her name was Sinclaire White. In 1912 Sinclaire got a mention in The Crisis magazine for her skills as a violinist. The second photo here is the cover of that 1912 issue.¬† The lady on the front is not Sinclaire. I only ever saw one picture of my maternal grandmother and I do not remember her as she died when I was a year old. My siblings never knew her or even saw a picture. Nor was she ever talked about as we grew up. As a violinist she was magnificent. Later in life she taught violin. Inside this magazine in the¬†MUSIC AND ART section is this article about my grandmother:

” Miss Sinclair White of Chicago, Ill., who graduated June 18 from the Chicago Musical College, took part in the commencement program, playing the first and second movements of Sitt’s concertina in A minor. Miss White, who is a violinist, was the winner of the diamond medal awarded in the “teachers’ certificate class.” Accompanied by her mother she leaves shortly for Russia, where she is to have the advantage of five years’ study.”

At the time The Crisis was a very influential magazine. Published by W. E. B. DuBois who was also a co-founder of the NAACP.¬†William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du¬†Bois (February 23, 1868 ‚Äď August 27, 1963) was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor. Due to current racial issues he and the NAACP have been in the news more often, lately. I love his picture. It’s possible Sinclaire knew DuBois.

By the 1930s Sinclaire was living in Pasadena with her husband and my mother. She was now Sinclaire White Murdock and she was the head of the Sinclaire White Murdock Music Arts Association.¬†The meetings would proceed with musical selections and a reading of stories such as, ‚ÄúThe Immortal Story of Enoch Ardin,‚ÄĚ, by Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson.¬†Sometimes, the meetings were held in the Second Baptist Church; other times meetings were held at the Sojourner Truth Home in Los Angeles.

Sojourner Truth (1797 ‚Äď November 26, 1883) was an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights activist born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York. We didn’t talk much about Sojourner Truth when I was growing up, but they obviously recognized her in Pasadena back in the day and Sinclaire had the good sense to hold her meetings in a building named after a woman who would become¬† a force in 2017.¬†As of today Truth‚Äôs statue will stand on the Empire State Trail in Ulster County.

My family history is very much Black history. Though for some reason Sinclaire listed herself as Spanish in my mother’s school records.

My family history is also Italian as Sinclaire also married Guiseppe Amato (or Joe) and had my mom, Norma. Joe’s parents emigrated from Italy to New York in the early 1900s.¬† Joe became a barber and gave my brother’s their first haircuts. It’s more difficult to find Italian records but that is on my to do list.

I love my family. And I love connecting with you, too.

Thanks, for stopping by. And, KCB.

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