Fallen Through The Cracks

Old_black_woman_by_TadadaaammIn June of 1965, while canvassing for black voters in Charleston, SC, Sherie met Happiness Dingle. The day she found Happiness she also met Mrs. Gadsden, who didn’t know the alphabet and Nell, who had never heard of voting and wondered where she could find one if it was important. Both had grown up under a state system that said that black children could go to school for six months for six years or 36 months in order to learn everything they needed to know to become adults. Mrs. Gadsden hadn’t gone and Nell had finished the third grade. Both women lived in poverty. In Charleston the Civil Rights Movement had freedom schools, which could help them if they wanted to register.
Happiness was her third client of her first day in the field. Sherie never learned if Happiness could read or write because their conversation never got to this point. Her health was the main problem Happiness had to solve. With no family nearby to help the old woman cope, the State of South Carolina was her only chance and they couldn’t help her until next year. All Sherie could do was remind Happiness’ church that she was out there and in need.
Today you are an audience representing Sherie as Mrs. Dingle has her final conversation. Sherie admired the dignity with which Mrs. Dingle approached death while wishing she could offer more hospitality.
Here is Sherie Labedis with her speech “Fallen Through the Cracks.”


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