On this day four years ago, I was concerned about my youngest daughter starting school. I was working a job I hated, barely writing, and celebrated my first wedding anniversary about a week and a half before.
It was a Friday, and my husband was working and I was home alone. I remember trying to rap my mind around all which was happening in my life–I wasn’t worried about St. Louis, Missouri then. I had been here my entire life, at that point it was 33 years. I had been married, then divorced and determined to make my life better for my children. I was frustrated because I was working at a place where I knew there was no chance for advancement, but I was determined to try and make it all work–make it all make sense.
I had been trying to leave St. Louis since I was about 16. I wanted so badly to leave, I wanted to go to New Orleans, New York, anywhere to put the smell of St. Louis dirt and Mississippi River water behind me.
My husband was in ministry, we had just founded a church on the Southside of St. Louis, oddly a place he wanted to move to and I was opposed to. He wanted to live in the bougie part of Shaw, and I told him so. We were in Ferguson living in a modest, dirty 2 bedroom apartment. He and I fought about money, time working and other things we thought important. We had decided after whatever was going to happen with ministry, we were going to leave and go ‘home’ to Texas, where he is originally from.
We kept those plans secret.
We had moved from Normandy, where the university I was attending was located. We had only been in that apartment about 8 months. We were living in Normandy when Trayvon Benjamin Martin was murdered. I remember talking to my mother about how upset that situation made me. I told her this had to be a modern day Emmett Till. I hadn’t talked to my mother about the increasing fear I had about having a third child, and that child be a boy. I didn’t tell her about my fears for my Texas-bred husband driving and living in North St. Louis County. I didn’t tell her about the trumped up warrants and my husband raising his hands above his head telling the officer calmly he was only reaching for his wallet.
I didn’t tell anyone how stressed I was being black, woman and mother–and now preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I didn’t know how to explain how tired, fatigued I was by living in North County, but so aware I couldn’t leave.
We had services at our church on Saturday at 5 p.m. I remember going to bed, soul tired, and wanting and willing my world to change. I didn’t know in 24 hours how much it would change.
We were in traffic on August 9th when West Florissant was all but gridlocked. When we got to church, my husband irritated we were late, when I found out Ferguson Police Department murdered a young black man, and left him in the street in front of his mother for four hours.
I remember everything in me that was mother, sister, wife and friend broke. The sobs were so deep they sounded ancestral. And there was nothing I could do while 24 hour hours later, my city exploded.
I watched it all burn from my house, 10 minutes away from where it all started.
[Image from Google/Storm Highway]