A DIfferent PerspectiveBy Lora Harrington-Pride
Racism is ugly. There are some stories that provide a different view of the world. Here is a story from one of our Villagers and a personal experience that took place in a definitely open and racist environment. This is the kind of story that gives one hope and that we need to remember as we deal with the issue. Here is her story:
December 31, 1968, I burned our Christmas Tree in the fireplace, ultimately burning off the roof of the house I was renting.
My 5 children and I wound up in L.A., piled into my brother and his wife’s one bedroom apartment.
No neighbor, friend, nor parishioner from the A.M.E. Church I attended, came forward to offer me any means of support or help.
I am not one to ask for help, so I can only assume that they didn’t know, didn’t care or were unable to offer me anything.
The student teacher from one of my children’s classes at Pacific Oaks, where 3 of my children were attending on scholarship for the purpose of offering diversity to the school by exposing a class of white children to a class of Black children whose paths would otherwise never cross.
This young woman gathered me on the evening of the fire, after my brother collected my children, and took me home with her.
She too, a single parent, put her 2 kids to bed, ran bath water for me, lit incense and candles in her living room, where she sat quietly with me, expecting me, she later said, to go into shock.
After 3 days on my brother’s couch and floors, on pallets, the young woman informed me that she had rallied Pacific Oaks, which was now offering 5 families, each willing to take a child, while, with their help, did find suitable living quarters for us.
My 12-year-old daughter went to the head kindergartener’s home. My 9-year-old son and 8-year-old son went to the homes of 2 different sets of parents whose children were students at the school.
My 4-year-old baby went to his preschool teacher, who, along with her daughter, the same age, loved him dearly. I felt so relieved.
My 6 year old, who was not a well-adjusted child, clinging to me, thus came to live with the family who took me in.
We lived with these families for 3 weeks, with someone coming almost daily to take me house hunting. I had no car.
One day the head kindergarten teacher with whom my daughter stayed, told me that her husband was a professor at Cal Tech, and that Cal Tech had spoken many time about integrating the neighborhood where they owned many houses, and that now was a good time to do so, and help a young Black woman with 5 kids and in need of a home.
They got me into a 3 bedroom house and when they, the parents at Pacific Oaks, learned that I had no washer, dryer, or dishwasher, they presented me with all 3.
Nothing that I received, did I ask for, nor could I ever repay anyone for what they did for me. I have over the past 30 years been paying it forward.
These people, every one of them who helped me, unsolicited by me – not even knowing me, came to my rescue, opening their homes and their hearts to my Black family. They were White.