Journey to Passion Pt.1

I heard it once said that you don’t know what’s worth fighting for until someone gives you a reason to live. Now I can’t honestly say that my whole life I knew exactly what I wanted and how to go about achieving my goal but I will say that at a very young age I had the idea. I was five years old when I first encountered my dream, attending Middlestat Elementary playing the role of ‘Little Red’ in the production of “Little Red Riding Hood“. I memorized the entire script to ensure that the show ran smoothly not knowing that my ability to do that at the age of five would later work in my favor. I received a standing ovation and the local newspaper refered to me as an “Up and Coming Star“, I knew this was fun but I also knew that it was a gift that I had yet to discover. In the evenings home with my mom we would indulge ourselves in a show called ‘Judging Amy’ about the daughter of a judge trying to fight and defend  the justice system. One night while we were watching the show it all clicked! I knew what I wanted at the tender age of five, I told my mother I was going to be a lawtress – a lawyer/actress that way I could act and get the action of the courtroom all wrapped in one. My mom laughed and said ok if that’s truly what I want to  do then just do it. I had no idea how my views, my life and my opinions would change over the years and frankly at the moment it didn’t matter.

My seventh grade year came and I was finally eligible to be on my middle school debate team. I continued to do plays and performances but it was time for me to begin the path for my law profession and in all my hours of research and study the greats began with debate. I had to audition for the team as most students are required and for the first time I was nervous. The debate coach was Ms. Aubrey and she was known to have no mercy on her students when it came to talent and skill. I did a monologue (of course with my theatre background) and I put together a speech that I had written for a previous class on the Africa Diaspora and Western Civilization. Ms. Aubrey was amazed to say the least and told me that I made the team after my performance it was perfect everything was beginning to fall into place. I perfected my skills and secured academic scholarships by the time I was a senior in high school. I was in a zone. Focused. Determined. Driven. March 2008 arrived sooner than I anticipated and I was prepared, by that time I had lived in four different states and been to five different schools. At the time we were living in sunny California or should I say desert California because Ridgecrest felt like a day at the beach without water for miles during the day and a snow storm at night. My dad came home to inform the family that we were finally moving back to Texas, Houston, Texas and while I was pleased I was highly upset because I was so used to travel I had not planned to go back to texas. Well at least not any time soon and especially not 3 months before graduation. And my parents refused to let me stay with family or friends to finish, the family was moving back to texas so that meant that I was moving back to texas.

Graduation came and went along with acceptance letters. My top school Princeton University accepted me, ME! And I could not go because the out-of-state fees were just as much as the tuition and even with the scholarships I received there was no way. So I was stuck, but not defeated. I decided to be frugal and attend Lone Star Community College because I still had no idea of what school I wanted to attend in the great lone star state. I can honestly say that was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I auditioned for the collegiate debate team and was quickly accepted, I learned so much there it was almost as if I discovered a new side of myself that I never knew existed. Under the teachings of Wade Hechst I became the 2009 Phi Ro Pi National Champion and the Pi Kappa Delta Champion the following year recieving all superior awards in my fields and landing scholarships from across the country. Things were playing just as I had planned now all I had to do was decided where to go. Growing up in different suburbias most of my life and not around my own people I decided I wanted to go to a HBCU, no I needed to go to an HBCU. I settled on Wiley College in Marshall, Texas a small town close enough to home but still far enough to where I would still be missed. I loved it. A private Methodist school with Chapel on Tuesdays followed by fried chicken gatherings in the cafeteria. Old plantation houses that now doubled as dorms and administration offices and a presence that just screamed the ideals of obstacles overcome. I felt like I was home. From cookout campaigns to registration rallies everyone had a fight even if the cause was different the front was united. It wasn’t until a few months later that I would realize that it was just a front.

About four months later my roommate and I were beyond starving and decided to go grab some food. Now the thing about Marshall is that it is small which means things close early, which  means if you want food you may had to drive a good ways to find a place that is open. At the time I had a place right off of highway 20 and about five miles up was the only place we knew stayed open, IHOP. And it was quickly looking like an IHOP kind of night. Once the journey was made we were tired and even hungrier than before, because my roommate thought it would be a good idea that since we were eating late we should walk there and back thus to burn calories. I could have killed her when we got there, at 2 am five miles felt like 10 and all I wanted to do was sit down.  When we walked into the restaurant there was a cold glance that hit you like walking in the house after being out in the Houston summer heat. It was clear that we were not regular customers, my roommate began to nudge my side to I guess signal me that we should leave, but everyone who knows me knows I do not scare that easily. And the way I was feeling I was not going to leave without having a meal. The hostess whose reflection easily mirrored mine on any day seemed reluctant to seat us but once she realized I wasn’t going to leave she began to leads us to the back. Noticing what her intentions were I stopped once we reached the middle, “This will do,” she gave me a side eye and said, “I will be back to get your orders.” As she walked away eyes began to burn holes in my skull and I knew we weren’t sitting under the light.  After 15 minutes and she still hadn’t returned I decided it wouldn’t be smart to let them cook me food. As we were walking out of the restaurant we saw the hostess outside talking to a local, she looked at us and rolled her eyes. It was at that moment that I realized her reflection I once thought I could relate too was nothing more than a tan. Smh. Those five miles back my roommate and I knew something had to be done we needed people to know of the injustice we just witnessed in 2010 and it needed to be stopped. The following day we talked to the Dean, the President and even our Debate Coach and all of their responses were the same. They asked us why we were out on that side of town at that time of night, as if Jim Crow was a current issue. The thing is in Marshall it was. We just didn’t know it yet.