Monday, February 11, 2013
Pastorgraphs: “A Living Legend”
February 11, 2013
Pastorgraphs: “A Living Legend”
[During this, the tenth year of the E-Vangel Newsletter, I will reprise a few of the early Pastorgraphs. Today’s Pastorgraph is from February 22, 2005, with minor edits. I mentioned my experience at Rosedale High yesterday in Integrity Academy, and in my recent book. That experience would not have been possible without the help of Dr. J. Y. Trice, Rosedale’s mayor, pastor, educator, and legendary Mississippi Delta grassroots political leader. A little over a year ago, at age 90 the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce honored Dr. Trice for having made a significant lifetime contribution to the life and economy of the Mississippi Delta. I met Dr. Trice in my senior year at Delta State (1969-70). He changed my life for the good.]
Dr. J. Y Trice is a Renaissance man, a Great Mississippian: educator, minister, statesman, and enabler. I will never forget the contribution he made to my life.
It was spring semester 1970 at Delta State, my senior year. I was completing my Bachelor of Science in Education degree, and this was my semester for student teaching. The Dean called me to his office. I knew he had either very good or very bad news. “William,” he began, “we have a special request to ask you. We want you to do your student teaching at Rosedale High.” Without saying another word, I knew what the Dean was asking of me. You see, Rosedale High was 100% African-American. This was 1970, and most schools in Mississippi had not yet integrated, delaying the inevitable as long as possible. I would be the only Anglo among all the students and faculty at RHS that semester.
Rosedale sits near the Mississippi River, about half way between Memphis and Vicksburg in Bolivar County. I know Rosedale well. It is a lovely town, almost lost in time; a throwback to the best of the Old South. Ante bellum homes adorn the city, cotton fields are still a major presence, magnolias line the roadways, and no one seems to be in too much of a hurry, especially in the hot Mississippi Delta sun.
In one moment, the whole “civil rights movement” became very personal. In a strange twist, it looked like I was going to “integrate” Rosedale High. I had observed from far too close the slayings of three civil rights students near Philadelphia, MS, and the assassinations of Medgar Evers in Jackson and Martin Luther King in Memphis. I had seen some of my fellow students stage “sit ins” to protest the war in Vietnam, blocking the college President from his office. Heck, I was no activist. I just wanted to “live and let live”.
My student teaching at Rosedale turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me, thanks to Dr. Trice, who, as Superintendent of Education, took me under his arm, smoothing the way, expecting the students and faculty to treat me with respect. They did. I only wish every student teacher could have had a Dr. Trice.
In another venue, a small black girl singly integrated a school in the Deep South amid the daily insults of white segregationists. Escorted to school by the National Guard, she looked down at the ground as she entered the school each day. One day, she stopped and looked up before continuing into school. A newspaper reporter, following the sensational story, asked the little girl why she looked up. “Every day as I go to school, I look down, because I am praying for all those people who hate me so much. Today, while I was praying, I heard God say ‘Look Up’. I looked up, and saw Jesus with his arms outstretched, and I knew everything was going to be alright.” Then she said, “I just wish those people who say such ugly things to me would just look up, and see Jesus, and know everything is going to be alright.”
Thank you, Dr. Trice, for helping me “look up”. I will think of you as I return this week (February 2005) to Yazoo City High School, my alma mater, and address the students and faculty in the New South…new, and better, because of leaders like The Rev. Dr. (Mayor) J. Y. Trice. And the little girl was correct; things are (finally) turning out alright!
From the Quote Garden:
“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, That we do hereby commend the distinguished and laudable service and contributions of Dr. Juniper Yates (J.Y.) Trice to the State of Mississippi, acknowledge him as a living legend and extend most sincere wishes for continued success in all of his future endeavors.”
~ HR28, 2010 ~
REMINDER: “Integrity Academy” will continue for two more Sundays in February at 9:00 to 9:45. This Sunday’s topic will be: “Your Character: Why You Do What You Do!” We will look at the role of habits, motives and moral fiber in building your character and integrity. You are invited to attend, and learn how to begin your journey to a life of integrity, happiness and success. Those who complete the course will receive a “Certificate of Integrity” and The Integrity Toolkit. For details call the church office (619) 284-9205 or respond to this email.
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205