Alabama Odyssey ~ Day 5

We met with Mary Lee Bendolph for whom I have the utmost respect. We really connected and talked for an hour. It was interesting because I know her life story, so I told her mine and then she started telling me hers and I said, oh, I know this, and she was impressed at how much I knew and gave me lessons on how to live life to its fullest.

Watching Reverand Pettway at the podium was great because he just spoke his mind and didn’t just read off something. The way that he spoke seemed so honest. I could definitely tell that people loved to be at that church.

I loved sitting the dock wondering what all the other kids [at Gee’s Bend] have gone through in their lives. I found most kids lived with their grandparents.

I felt sort of uncomfortable because the younger children and adults would call me ma’am or Ms. One of the littles boys came up and asked, “Excuse me ma’am? Is it okay if I eat a sandwich, or maybe a chip or two?” I understand that this could just be because he is young, but when he felt like he had to ask me if it was okay for him to eat… Made me really think back on all those hard times and how racism is still here today. I wonder if he was told to ask and call me ma’am. Every little thing has a big story behind it.

Today we started out with going to church. I used to not like church at all, but now I have a better appreciation for church. Today I loved it when we sang in front of the others in church. I also enjoyed when the four ladies were singing. I believe that being able to go there was a great opportunity. I felt kind of out of place, though.

Adding to the quilt was awesome. Those quilts have so much history and so many conversations and songs sewn into them, and I felt really honored to be able to add on to that and contribute my own stitches, singing and conversation to that quilt.

Today was the first time going to church. It was amazing! I wish I could go back next week. It was so different than I thought it was going to be. The love and hope that was there was incredible. Reverent Pettway was so excited for us being there, and all the other people made me feel loved and accepted. Singing there was so fun, having everyone join in. I smiled the whole time.

I thought that being so involved with the kids was a great opportunity for us. The little ones were so happy to be with us. For me, it was a great time to think about my relationship differences between African American kids and white kids. It’s a difficult thing to think about because I know there shouldn’t feel like there are any differences between us, but somehow I still feel myself acting differently around them. Maybe because I have never really interacted with black children before, and that’s why it felt different.

While I sat down by the dock and cooled off, a young girl came down and began to talk to a few of us. We shared stories about what we did up north and south and our sports and pastimes.