My mom never talked much about Dick Gregory who passed away last night in D.C. at the age of 84 but last night her voice seemed a little more emotional when talking about the passing of another Civil Rights Activist.
I finished watching a movie with my wife when I checked my voicemail. It was my mother and it was later than when she’d usually call. Word had come to her from Dorie Ladner that Dick Gregory had died at the hospital. I quickly jumped onto Google News and saw that there wasn’t anything in the press. I listened to the voicemail again to make sure I heard it right. My wife asked me what was the matter. I told her and she said, “I’m sorry.” I never met the man but she knows that I feel like I have as I’ve interviewed and interacted with so many of these heroes and sheroes my entire life. I made a quick post on Facebook. An hour later his death hit the news feeds.
I don’t know how well my mother knew Mr. Gregory. I know they did an impromptu sit-in in Atlanta back in the day after a SNCC meeting but beyond that I don’t think their paths crossed too often.
As the years pass more and more of her friends from the Civil Rights Movement are moving on to their restful reward. That’s got to weigh on a person beyond just your standard friends passing. There was a special bond among those who worked together in the Movement and when one passes you know a bit of light has left the world.
Perhaps there’s also the thought that maybe there is more they could’ve done. There’s always more. It’s a lifelong commitment. And in light of what is taking place these days like the recent events in Charlottesville there’s probably a greater sense of urgency: have we shared enough of our stories, does the next generation really understand, will anyone truly stand up and fight?
Don’t worry, Mom, we’ve heard the stories. We understand. We’re fighting the good fight.