Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hope for the future embodied in a lovely young girl named Yaminah ...

At a point late in the proceedings today, a woman stepped out of the crowd to tug ever so lightly on my sleeve. "I'm Mira. We met recently at Flossie's family memorial service at Geoffrey's." Flossie was the Florence Reid Lewis whose life we celebrated only two weeks ago. The young woman continued, "...Yaminah remembered you (she's standing over there). She's Flossie's granddaughter. I'm Yaminah's mother."

And here she stood. The personification of "Youth on Crusade." Except for Michael Franti's little boy, Yaminah was the youngest demonstrator in sight. But she was here after much thought, obviously, since -- deep into the proceedings after many had testified -- she asked to speak. She was articulate, clear and dedicated to a strong belief in the democratic principles of justice and fairness. She spoke as only a young person can of the predictable effects we can anticipate should clemency be denied and Tookie's life taken. She was Betty at 15-16, and it's hard to express how much her presence meant to me seeing her there. On the drive home across the Richmond-San Rafael bridge, Sondheim's "Children Will Listen" imagined itself into my head and played softly behind our conversation.

Later Yaminah's mother told me of a march for clemency and a moratorium being planned for next week that will start at the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor, cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and end up at San Quentin. "She would like to participate, and we'd love to have you join us."

We exchanged email addresses after I learned from Mira (Yaminah's mother) that this beautiful young cousin had read our family history website (California Black Pioneers) ... and maybe this journal....?

I do hope I can do this ... if work allows ... and if the aging body holds out under new and crushing demands. If not, it's just possible that the young woman replacement I've been waiting for these past years may now be in the wings preparing for an entrance when the time is right ... .

Photo: Yaminah Abdur-Rahim making her statement -- perhaps her first public stand but certainly not her last. Mira is standing just behind and to Yaminah's left -- head down with face showing just above the eyebrows.

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