My Aunt Ruth

My Aunt Ruth was so beautiful that the Miss California pageant wanted her to be a contestant but my Grandmother wouldn’t hear of it.  Ruth Brookover was as intelligent and compassionate as she was beautiful. When she heard that I had cried when I saw a dark-skinned nurse’s aide leaning over my hospital crib when I had eye surgery in San Francisco at age two and a half she gave me a little Black doll because she said I had hurt the lady’s feelings and she wanted to make sure I didn’t grow up prejudiced.

My Aunt Ruth and me age 5 months

When I was seven, Aunt Ruth took me to my first political demonstration. I was scared but proud as we stood outside the San Francisco Market Street Macy’s store at Christmastime with signs that said No War Toys. The protest was organized by Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) in an effort to make parents stop and think before they purchased gifts of guns and toy soldiers for their young children. As I stood in the cold fog in my thin coat my older Cousin Bob took my hand when people yelled at us “Communist!”  It was then that I learned that you might suffer for doing the right thing, but you also got the rewards of belonging. Aunt Ruth took us out for Chinese food afterwards so my first political protest left a good taste. Sometimes it is the small as much as large events in life that leave a lasting impression.

A student in a Gender Studies class I spoke to at University of South Alabama wrote:

I am not overly interested in the history of the South, yet Maria’s story had my full attention from beginning to end. She told it in such a personal way, from having lived through it. It made it seem so much more real than the history you read about in books. – Lindsey Bozeman
A student in Ms. Williams “Women in the Civil Rights Class” at University of Colorado Pueblo wrote:
I really appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to talk our class! You are really good at storytelling –  you brought your stories to life. I will keep you updated on whats going on with me Thanks! – Jibrail D.