Thursday, July 9, 2020

History (Frances, Rochelle, and Norman)

The Fourth of July has come and went, during a time when American history has been called into question. It feels awkward to celebrate America's independence from the British Empire when this Declaration of Independence only served the White man. I want to honor this past Fourth of July and the Black Lives Matter movement to post stories of our older buds calling our history, laws, and institutions into question, and inspiring us to do better:
Frances Bryce
Does an Amendment Need an Amendment?

A study of the Constitution often left me unsettled with what was written in some articles and at least one of the Amendments, mainly the second. I often wondered about the decision rendered with the Superior Court of the meaning when it was written and their ruling that was to uphold the stature. I would like to think maybe it should be revisited. My problem with the right of the people to keep and bear arms, now that we have a standing Army, Navy, Marine and now the people do not need to bring their arms for the security of a free state as was necessary when the Amendment was made. Each state has its National Guard for security of its state. The use of Military weapons that have caused mass murders were not available when this Amendment was passed, how can he compare it to the weapons of that day. I am probably like the lovely little petunia in the onion patch. I cry and cry each day. Maybe one day the people will be willing to enforce laws that will protect the masses, since it is supposed to be a government of the people by the people.

Rochelle Tynes
These Things Aren’t New

I assume you’re talking about these riots and all this stuff that’s going on. These things aren’t new. I met up with someone a couple of days ago who told me that, “I said I don’t see the sense of it. Really I don’t see the sense of it because people are robbing places,” and I said, “Suppose they have children and somebody says, ‘I want some cereal,’ well we don’t have no milk, where you gon’ get it? And then you’re sitting there looking at them and somebody in the crowd or maybe yourself wants a sandwich, tell me where you go and get it because you’ve destroyed these places.” So where do you go and do this if you don’t have this stuff at home? Okay, and then they’re stealing sneakers and they put a curfew out, so you’re home with your flip flops on looking at your sneakers sitting there because you can’t wear them out and show them off yet and you have these T.V.s that use electric when you want to see them, you’re watching these T.V.s and it’s running your electric bill up. And so when it gets so high you can’t watch the T.V., the T.V. gon’ be watching you. What sense does this make? This lady that I was talking to told me that when these things happen, changes come. Well, changes come because lazy people should get up and go vote. That’s my thought. Now it don’t make it right. But violence never settled anything and it only breeds more violence and more hate, and people are disgruntled. And some people are just fed up with all the looting and what does it solve? It means somebody has to clean this mess up. I don’t understand it because people who have businesses and have good sense have insurance that will cover this stuff. It might raise your insurance but they should have insurance to cover this. I think they should find all those people who did all this looting and make them clean it up, you know? And maybe that will do something for ‘em, give them something to do with theirself besides acting a fool. People don’t realize that all of these people who are doing all of this looting and rioters, they’re not all black. They are not all black! Black people have reasons to be disgruntled. I’ve heard stories since I was a kid about the injustices that have been perpetrated on black people. I’ve seen stuff, I’m almost 80, so I’ve seen a lot of stuff, I have lived through a lot of stuff, I know how rotten and nasty some policemen can be and that’s what needs to change, the police structure itself. I can tell you this, I had a grandson that got killed in Virginia for some wrongdoings that him and his friends were doing amongst themselves. The police didn’t do this, and when my son called me and told me, “They killed him, them killed him!” I thought it was the police. I tell you I packed a suitcase with my toothbrush, some junk stuff in it, and some clean underwear because I knew I was not coming back. I knew I could not go down there, have them tell me that some policeman shot my grandson who was laying on the ground with his hands cuffed in back of him and they shot him because he was resisting arrest. My response would be, “Then you need to resist this,” and I would have shot anything in sight and I knew I wouldn’t have came back that’s why I didn’t pack a suitcase because I knew I was either gonna be in jail or dead, ‘cause I think it is just that stuff should stop. How can you kill somebody, go home and go to sleep? How you do that? And them somebody that’s working with you that’s supposed to be your superior that’s supposed to have two cents more than you tell you, “Oh it’s okay,” and send you home? Not tonight. And I’m saying this happened between his peers and I said the Lord protects dummies because I know he was protecting me, ‘cause if I’d have went back there you all wouldn’t be talking to me now. You wouldn’t ‘cause I just couldn’t see the sense. Too many things have happened for too long and people have gotten away with it and that’s why we get this crap we get now. That’s why we get it. And if you live through it you understand it and if you’re not Black you don’t understand it and if you haven’t lived through it you don’t understand it. Some people that are Black have never had this stuff happen to them. Well, I’m saying that if you’re Black you maybe have gone through other things. There are things, a Black situation. When I was living in the projects, most of the people who live in the projects are Black. I had a little house down in Tasker and when they said that there’s a curfew and that the kids had to be in the house, okay. I don’t know how you do that in the projects. Everybody’s in and out of everybody’s house most of the time and kids socialize and whatever. Okay here come the police and they say, “Okay, everybody gotta go home.” Everybody starts walking home so I told my son “Come on and walk with me, let’s go over this way.” And so the police went up…

Norman Cain
Come Together

  I had an expensive cellphone that my son-in-law bought me several months ago when I was in Orlando, Florida, but it broke down and I got an inexpensive cellphone and it’s working better than the expensive cellphone. There are some problems, but the good thing about it is the fact that I played around with it which I didn’t do with the old cellphone, the expensive one, and I was able to get online and I was able to get to my Facebook, which allowed me to be into Zoom right now with Best Day. Now I’m having problems getting into Zoom with my church, but I don’t have any problems getting into Zoom with my writing group at Drexel University which meets about three times a week but I’m able to do it once a week on Fridays. Hopefully by this week or by the end of this month, I have a computer. It should be coming in any day now and it’s going to be a donation, what I understand, from my writing group at Drexel. But if that doesn’t come through, I’m definitely going to get one at the beginning of next month. Like previous presenters, I’m very thankful that during this dire time that we are getting text message and phone calls, etcetera from people. Now, I’ve been getting calls and I’ve been calling people that I haven’t really talked to for three or four years. Especially with Facebook and what not I’ve been reaching out to relatives across the country and also with the phone here, and it’s really coming in handy this technology, it can be bad and it can be good. Two folk Philadelphia icons in their mid-eighties, Bootsie Barnes who is a jazz saxophonist, very famous, he passed away and just as soon as he passed away, they had all of his, so many of his—on videos—his sessions and what not. And also, there’s a guy who’s about eighty-four who was a great social dancer who’s named Otis Givens, we could follow him ever since his teenage days and he died and they had so much on him. Also, several times I’ve been in the presence of Trapeta Mayson who is the poet laureate of Philadelphia, so I got a chance to see her on television. And I cannot think because of the senior moments are coming in, but there is a fella that was with, or he’s still with the MOVE organization, and he had just came out of prison, and he held on to his liberty for forty-five years I believe. And he gave the true story about the brutality and whatnot that they really had to endure- the true story. There was a first MOVE incident down in Powelton Village, the true story that they held up with this terrible system that we have in the United States, and that’s one of the things that’s disturbing me. We have all of this outpouring of love that’s going back and forth and I can feel it right now over the phone. All of this feeling of love and comforting words and then we have, I have to say it, our government really does not care. When you hear statements that some of us will have to die, you don’t have to say it that way but this is the way it is and this is what we have got to understand. One of the things that I’ve been doing during this pandemic is that I’ve been researching Zora Neale Hurston. Several weeks ago I came back from Orlando, Florida and I stayed with my daughter and her family and I attended the thirty-fourth year anniversary of her festival in the town that she grew up—Eatonville, an all-black town since about 1895 or earlier and it’s still incorporated. And the state of Florida wanted to put a highway through the town and they almost were successful in doing that but then the people rallied and said that the town was worth saving because of Zora Neale Hurston. So thirty-four years ago when they had the first festival you had I think 3,000 folks came. She is definitely a literary figure, a playwright, dance promoter, journalist, anthropologist, a singer, dancer, and you can go on and on and on and on. So the last several weeks I’ve been researching, by the phone again, her work. I knew that she was prolific but I did not know the depth of her genius. So basically that’s what I’ve been doing and I’m so happy that we have been able to come together at this point.

One of the things about Best Day I love is hearing about history from the people who lived through it. It gives me so much more perspective than the same stories in the same textbooks or Wikipedia articles. You can help share our older buds stories by donating to Best Day, subscribing to our newsletter, sending a note to our older buds, or following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. If you want to volunteer yourself, then email us at And if you know older buds with stories, then you or they can submit them through our portal right here. We're especially interested to stories from Black older buds, but we're always looking for stories from older buds of color, older buds with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ older buds, older buds of any gender or sex, older buds of any religion, and older buds who just plain break the mold.

And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri