Kenny keeps his "Eyes On The Prize"
In 1987 my husband and I moved to North Carolina. He had a small remodeling business and hired a 20 year old black youth named Kenny to help with the heavy stuff. Kenny had no carpentry skills but Dick told him that he would teach him the business if he were reliable and trustworthy.
Pretty soon the two of them had a set routine and that included coming back to the house at noon for a lunch that I would prepare for them. After each meal Kenny would say, "Mizzrus Richard, that was real good." He had a sharp mind and was quick to learn but his Southern dialect was strong.
Their lunchtime happened to coincide with the airing, on our local PBS Station, of the award winning documentary "Eyes on the Prize, America's Civil Rights ... 1954-1965". Kenny became very engrossed with the show and he and I would watch it every day.
It was interesting to realize that Kenny knew little about his own history. He had been born and schooled in North Carolina but he said that he had never been taught ANYTHING about the Civil Rights movement.
Kenny and I watched the series day after day and he became more and more agitated. This was completely new to him and he was amazed at what he was seeing. He even began to take notes and would ask my opinion on what we had seen. The part that affected him the most was when Gov. George Wallace stood on the schoolhouse door in Alabama and blocked the entry of the black students.
I could see the conflict of emotions that were roiling inside of him as he watched and suddenly he turned to me and said something that I'll never forget. He said, "Mizzrus Richard, do you know what? Someday that Governor is going to get real old and used up and he's going to spend his last days in a nursing home. And do you know who's going to take care of him? WE ARE !"
It wasn't meant as a threat...he was simply stating a fact ... but it gave me a chill. Yes, I thought, the day of reckoning may come to us all. I was glad that I could tell Kenny that Gov. Wallace had a change of heart and had begged forgiveness of the many people with whom he had clashed.
That was over 20 years ago. After my husband died Kenny went on to form his own company in another County and has become quite prosperous but he has never forgotten me. He still calls to say "hi" and always ends the conversation by giving thanks to my late husband Dick for the life that he enjoys today.