If it takes a village to raise a child, we are ready. Our youngest, Imani (Swahili for Faith) is twenty months – a walking, talking angel of a child who cries occasionally in short bursts and then quiets and smiles. There are thirty-two passengers and a bus driver on the bus and thirty-two of them foster this child, bouncing her on a knee, lifting her up to heaven, helping her draw her feelings in a notebook, teaching her new words.
We had sisters, Kyla and Leilani. One was six and the other eight. They came with their grandmother, Gloria Jean and their aunt, Jenafer. We were blessed that these children brought us sunshine and not misbehavior. The days were long and emotionally draining and they were learning along with the rest of us without complaint. When slavers took Africans from their countries they chose those who were over five. Only Imani would have been left behind by her distraught mother, Tabitha.
Dieonté is ten. (I hope I spelled it correctly. I didn’t once and I heard from him!) He is precocious asking guides some of our most apt questions. As I read his journal (a requirement for those wanting credit for the class) I wish that all the students I have had could write as well and think as perceptively.
It is easy to discover the ages of the children, but I choose not to ask who the oldest adult is. That’s partially because I don’t want to be rude and partially because I don’t want to discover that it’s me. Slavers did not take anyone over thirty. Let’s just say several of us would have been left behind.
However, many of our folks would have been spirited from their homes. Xavier is a sophomore in high school. Many are Solano College students. Although you can get three credits for taking the class, many of us have no need for credit, we’re looking for experience.
We are not all from California. Alicia and Josh come from Michigan. Xavier lives in Alabama.
We have a retired pediatrician, a nurse, a retired doctor of social work, at least three college professors, a reporter and journalism student, a retired lawyer (family law and wills), a Public Works administrator from Richmond, a student who will be attending Alabama State in the fall, a bookstore manager at Solano College, a student from UCD, an administrator at Solano, a bus driver and more.
I’ve written in my book, You Came Here to Die, Didn’t You, “You may be confused by the ever-changing personnel. I know I was at the time. Civil rights workers, black and white, came and left the Pineville Freedom House all the time. Some stayed for a day, others for a week.” And so it was with this Civil Rights Tour. In Atlanta Khafre Abif and part of his family boarded the bus for a couple of days. He told about his part in the Movement and his cycling quest to get help for blacks with AIDs. We had a guide from Heritage Bus Tours in Memphis. Charles McLaurin joined us in the Mississippi Delta to share his experiences during/since the 1960s. And there were others.
This tour is about history and about achieving a goal, but it will also be about bonding into a new freedom family along the way.
(Too tired to fuss with the formatting any longer. Hope this is easily readable.)
Marilyn and Glenn Pribus
Steve and Marcia Kent
Smokey Hill Books