I remember the day I took a hold of Michael Dukakis’s hand. I was only in grade school, but that meeting meant the world to me. Three essays were picked that week, one of them happened to be mine. I stood up and looked at the crowd, and then he proceeded to shake my hand. Three years before that great day, a teacher wanted to place me in special education. I didn’t know any of my alphabets at age seven. She would paddle me left and right, but it made little difference because I couldn’t read. She didn’t think I was capable of learning, but my mother rallied against it. My mother won that war, and I spent another year in the first grade. My second year I learned to read, and I learned my letters with the help of my sisters.
My mother is no longer alive today. Yet, her influence in my life goes on. I might not have been the archeologist that I wanted, but I’m something much more. I’m living proof that every child deserves a real chance at learning. As you read my articles, books, or poetry understand that if it weren’t for my mother this would never be. All this time I thought she didn’t believe in me. Yet, I failed to understand that if it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be able to write this line, or read that paragraph.
Perhaps we can only do what we know. I have spent so many years wondering what my life would have been like if they understood me. Yet, I never took the time out to think about what my life would have been like if she never took up for me. College would have been off the table because in those days black special education children didn’t learn anything. I still recall children in high school not knowing how to spell the word cat. I’m so glad she took up for me. I couldn’t stand a life that held me as a literary prisoner. If it weren’t for my mother there is really no telling where I would be. Chances are it would have been a place, which I wouldn’t want to be.