"There are more pleasant things to do than beat up people." ~Muhammad "Bumaye" AliC. Delores Tucker and Vivian Malone Jones have, God willing, moved on up a little higher and I wish them both a peaceful journey.
Vivian Malone Jones remains largely unknown. We, people who if not darker than blue are beaten there, may recall her name from African American history services at out churches or conversations with our parents or ADW but rarely the history book. This is a woman who wouldn't let George Wallace turn her around who integrated the University of Alabama and graduated with honors deftly ducking the stones whizzing by her head more often than not absorbing their vicious impact and proudly persisting toward her desired goal. I know a lot about intense enmity. All black people do those of us on the margins of that margin even better. Thank the lord inside I was able to go to an HBCU for undegrad but my little time at a predominant institution damn near broke my spirit and it was heaven to the infinte power compared to what this woman endured. I am constantly amazed at us. I am grateful for those who have come before.
C. Delores Tucker, we know well, or at least many of us think we do. I met her a decade ago and I didn't know her but I know her better than those who throw stones at her turbanned topped body just barely in rigor. In 1995 I read an articled in The Facts or The Medium, black Seattle papers, about the impending Biennial Conference of the National Political Congress of Black Women at the Seatac Sheraton. I had never heard of the organization but black women plus politics seemed right up my alley. I was always in the mix so were my friends. When the Northwest International Women's Conference convened in Seattle in preparation for the monumental conference in Beijing I attended as a student delegate from Lakeside School and arrived to see my friends L'Erin and Ife fully engaged in conference proceedings. We informed these women how marginalized and racist mainstream feminism was in the spirit of black feminists we hadn't even read yet and we had just started high school. Unafraid and always up in the mix.
But back to the NPCBW conference. I wanted to go but it was out at hotel by the airport easily a 40 minute drive from the crib and not easily accesible via public transport, since I was too young to drive anyway. The conference began on Friday while I was in school but my mother thought nothing of chauferring me there and back Saturday and Sunday. Dressed in my church clothes (no need to add the modifier "finest" cause they were all nice. That's how we did/do at the oldest black church in Seattle for better or for worse) I presented myself at the volunteer table at which point my friend and schoolmate Ife saw me and scooped me from certain banal duties and squired me to Tucker's spacious suite. Ife was the definition of connected even in her early teens. We split our time between engaging workshops and trailing after C. Delores Tucker. Tucker had initiated conversations with Suge and Tupac at the time. In fact, if I recall correctly she met with Suge during the conference in her suite (or at least she was supposed to). I was at a workshop at the time. I left the conference feeling empowered, plugged in, revitalized by political conversations that centered black women. Not too long after Tucker and her crew left town I learned of her mobilization against certain strains of hip hop. It was kinda funny to me cause after leaving the conference on that Sunday I skipped dinner to listen to KCMU's Rap Attack in my rose wallpapered bedroom. I felt a little embarassed at first by her method and by her occasional contradictions but could feel her discomfort/outrage at the preponderance of racialized misogyny in hip hop even if I had yet to renounce it. Tucker was conflicted, yes. Occasionally opportunistic, yes. And she suffered too many tactical failures for me to list. But she was also principled and brave and unfairly represented in the media.
I dont know if I knew Tucker's history then but I know it now. Tucker fought for black women to be at the civil rights table when our shining black princes would have preferred us to be prone and she carved a space, however narrow, for black women at the democratic party table. I'd be wary 'fore I threw stones at Tucker especially if I was continuing to stay mum on the failures of Rev. Chavis, oops I mean Minister Chavis Muhammad, and Jesse Jackson but then again I don't throw stones, I am merely the target.