Don't Forget Charlie

1/15/16  Denham Springs, Louisiana

Ms Anna Christine and Mr Jewel Davis, both in their nineties grew up in the Deep South. This past week a team of 11 college women from Towson State near Baltimore, 7 of them of African descent, some of them Muslim, came down to help rebuild the Davis home.  At the end of the week after the team had finished their work I asked Ms Anna what changes she'd seen in her life having grown up in segregation: "A regret I had was that I didn't question the culture I grew up in. I didn't acknowledge them. When you walked down the sidewalk they (blacks) had to step off the sidewalk and look down...never make eye contact.  I find it hard to believe now that I never said anything, but that's what happens when you just go along."

"I suppose what changed me more than anything was in 1950 when I was hired to help with the census and I had to go into the country to many of their homes.  I was 20 years old and I went by myself. I was not afraid even though I had to take poorly maintained back roads where I'd never gone before. And it seemed we were always getting stuck in the mud. But they helped me not be afraid. They were so warm and friendly.  And they had no reason to be kind toward me. But they were anyway."

"I'll never forget one house way back in the boonies.  I sat on the edge of the porch and went over the survey with the mother of the house.  She had a big family and I thought we were finished when she said 'Oh my I can't believe I forgot Charlie!!!' Then she took me in the house, it was small and had only two rooms. Not bedrooms. Rooms. In the back room there was a baby bed made up.  The mother pulled back the covers and there was Charlie. She beamed as she told me that Charlie was 16 years old."

"I was taken back. The boy was the size of an small child, but had a head much bigger. He couldn't talk. He had the beginnings of a mustache. I didn't know what to say. But the mother adored him.  And I'll never forget how clean the bed was. The sheets bright and pressed crisp. So Charlie got counted and I was on my way, but I was never the same after that. The way they took care of Charlie taught me what it means to be counted. To be acknowledged."

"After the flood and two feet of water in our home, Jewel and I thought how can we ever recover at our old age. We can't do it.   And who would care to help. Everyone else has their own flooded home to take care of. And now these young women from up North are part of the force helping us rebuild our home. Once again they are teaching me what it means to be counted.  And not forgotten.”