There are those women who have a direct impact on your life, without you understanding nor appreciating their work at that time. However, as life goes on and reflection becomes significant, one learns the positive impact they had. In my editorial last week, I talked about my Mother, Barbara Jean Jones being my first teacher, and she still teaches me. I am expanding that focus by sharing the impact women of strong civic responsibility affected me.
While in college, I served as the NAACP Youth and College Division President. That role allowed me to later be elected the Southeast Region One Director. The focus of this group was to recruit membership for the NAACP overall and help college and youth chapters across the southeastern region of the United States. Additionally, its focus was to make youth aware of African American history, activism and civic responsibilities. The group was also involved with the Davidson County Political Council.
Our leader, guardian, consultant, boss, Mother, advisor was the late Mrs. C. E. McGruder, a stalwart of civil rights activities in the Nashville area. Additionally Rev. Marilyn Ramsey was right alongside Mrs. McGruder in working for the Civil Rights of African Americans. Mrs. McGruder was a clarion voice in fighting for what was right for all people, especially her people. She was known for calling a mass meeting to discuss issues that negatively impacted African Americans in the Nashville area.
When no one else was speaking out, Mrs. McGruder was a loud cry for justice. She taught me not to be silent, when I saw injustice occurring. She was not hesitate to call the local news media; channels 2, 4, & 5 (there was no Fox at that time) and have them come to a meeting to discuss issues of police brutality. She would have her facts, speak sternly and demand a change in structure and action, without hesitation.
Mrs. McGruder and Rev. Ramsey speak loudly to my spirit, now more than ever. They could have been silent, still and comfortable in their lifestyle. However, they took up the reigns to speak, work and make a positive difference in the lives of children and youth, as well as all citizens. We too must not be silent, inactive or cower in what we consider a comfortable lifestyle. I am thankful for Mrs. McGruder and Rev. Ramsey and the many other luminaries of the Civil Rights era of the 60s. Their sprit speaks directly to me, which is why I am moved now more than ever to lead on a more expansive level, for such a time as this.