Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
Let's Lay Down The Cards
about what you are going to read. First of all, this is NOT, repeat, NOT a cute piece of narration where I will say something "cute" when a very serious comment should have fit. This entire offering is serious. Very serious. Probably as serious as Spousal Abuse, in the criteria of Abuse. What was being abused in "this" writing was, and is, many times, is the Guaranteed Rights of every man, woman, and child in our Great Country. The Abuse Proposal is another way to say Racial Profiling to more than one race of people. But in "this" case, just one race's Rights to Pursue Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness with Equality being out of reach. Enjoy, but please find yourself in the sweaty shoes of those Civil Rights marches in Birmingham and Selma, Ala. And if are able to do that, you should have no problem of understanding this piece. Thanks, Kenneth.
The Only Time
that I can vividly-recall when I was facing death, the Grim Reaper with long, bony fingers, was around 9:15 am on a Tuesday when I, along with my equally-terrified classmates, had been ordered for our class to be able to recite all 69 counties of Alabama in order so we might have a passing grade.
Our teacher was Coach Neil Childers, with a decent History mind, very conservative and knew that I was on a sinking ship. So that analogy about my on again, off again retentive skills would have made me a wet rat. I hated Ninth Grade History. The smell of Coach Childers' room, the heat always turned to the "high" position, and me dreading my impending failure to quote every Alabama county like many of my classmates before me had quoted in near-Richard Burton tones and showing-off that smart alec look to boot.
No one that I knew really liked Alabama History. And not many really liked Alabama, the state. More people liked the University of Alabama's football team, the Crimson Tide than the state of Alabama. But with me about to say a few Alabama counties and then crash and burn was set in 1969, way past the violence surrounding the Civil Rights demonstrations in Birmingham, spring 1963, with Birmingham Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene "Bull" Connor and his bands of Storm Troopers with their blood-thirsty Police Dogs trained to attack every Black Man and Woman in Birmingham, Ala.
While I sat, sweated, and listened to another classmate stand perfectly-straight and with near-perfect diction, say the Alabama counties as perfectly as any History book, I also forgot about the order from US. Attorney General, Bobby Kennedy, telling the police to maintain order while the Civil Rights demonstrations were going on in spring, 1963. Somehow Kennedy's order got mangled from Kennedy's lips to "Bull" Connor's ear because he told his troops to use the fire hoses to keep the Black Man off balance. This was in retaliation for Dr. Martin Luther King being jailed on May 3, for some flimsy charge, I think it was due to one of "Bull's" German Shepherd's biting one of the innocent Civil Rights marchers.
It was then while imprisoned, King wrote the epic piece: "A Letter From Birmingham Jail," a piece that should be taught by all History teachers in Alabama and the rest of the United States--for this piece of writing was brutally-honest and got the hearts of both Black and White people to start talking about unifying and stopping the ignorance about Blacks Reproducing From Apes and all of that dangerous, filthy propaganda. But you see . . .Coach Childers had those historical, and bloody Civil Rights Marches in Birmingham, but yet, thought that I, along with my classmates needed to know all of the Alabama Counties.
(FYI: "I" did not prophesy the following): Years ago from 1969, that same ignorance raised its filthy head again when a group called Skin Heads or worse, Neo-Nazi's with red and black swastika's on their shoulders showed-up in the Deep South and with cash in hand, secured Parade and Assembly Permits to resurrect "Bull" Connors' and those like him, to walk among the crowd like ghosts to remind people many years ahead just how ignorant the ill-educated and bigotry-drenched Caucasian can be. If I have learned one thing it's in order for a big crowd to get results, the crowd needs a fiery leader who has great oratory skills those like Adolph Hitler, whose passionate propaganda speeches brought the German masses to tears with his vocal theatrics.
But before my attempt to make my History teacher proud, I have yet to get past the Birmingham Commissioner of Public Safety's name: Eugene "Bull" Connor. Just that name would work as is, in any of Billy Bob Thornton's blood and guts films. "Bull." He was probably saddled with that moniker when he was active in boys football while in school. Or maybe he dreamt of becoming a prison warden and walking the aisles every hour while cracking his genuine leather Bull Whip. That's it! That is why his name name was "Bull" and not Bill. It's fun to learn.
I have always try to remember "that" morning in 1969 when it was my turn to come to the podium and to give the event some levity, I remember telling Childers and the class, "I am not a good speaker, so don't expect much." I got a few laughs toward the back of the room--the place where my friends and I hung-out. But I was very cautious about Coach Childers for he had a way of pouncing on someone who was talking without permission--and his loud rebukes would embarrass the culprit to teach them a lesson. I am not gloating, but I was never rebuked.
I did get a good handful of my Alabama counties correctly. I scanned the classroom as I mumbled-off what I had worked to remember: Autugua . . .Baldwin . . .Barber . . .Bibb . . . Bullock . . .some of my classmates looked sorry for me as I was failing right in front of Coach Childers' sharp eyes and others didn't care if I failed the task or just lay down and die then and there. That too was cool with me.
Years later from "that" death-like morning, I finally got past not quoting the Alabama counties correctly, and with the grade that I received, "C-" I was fine. But it was those awful memories of The 1963 Civil Rights March in Birmingham--the fire hoses washing innocent people down the street; "Bull" Connor's Police State, and while writing this narrative, it hit me. Those dogs that Connors' Storm Troopers used to attack the Black marchers, were German Shepherds . . .did you get that, German Shepherds!
Coincidence, about Adolph Hitler? Are you kidding me?
NO! And I do mean NO here, there, or please God, anywhere!
© 2018 Kenneth Avery