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This Man Is God-sent, Says 83-Year-Old Civil Rights Vet

Word From the Wise

New America Media, Commentary, Betty Shavers, as told to Teresa Moore Posted: Jan 19, 2009

Editor's Note: As a black woman who lived through the civil rights struggle in Danville, Va. -- a former tobacco and cotton town best known as the Last Capitol of the Confederacy -- Betty Shavers never imagined shed see an African American be elected president of the United States. Danville, which is located on the North Carolina border, in the reddest part of the state, had a 72 percent voter turnout; 59 percent of those voters supported Barack Obama. The city has a 45.6 percent black population. She shared her thoughts on the election and the coming inauguration with her niece, New American Media contributor Teresa Moore. Word From the Wise is a regular column of elder perspectives from the New America Media ethnic elder news beat.

Lord have mercy. Im 83 years old. I never thought that I would ever see a black president in my lifetime.

I thought I was going to wear out my television (on Election Night) because it was on all night. That was a great day in this world. Ive never seen Virginia go for someone who would do right by black people. My grandson called and asked what is up with Virginia? Everybody got their votes in.

This is the best thing thats ever happened to black folks. Im not saying that hes just a president for black people but I never thought Id see this happen. Slaves built up that White House and a black president has never lived there. And a growing family will be living there. I just pray for God to keep them and protect them. I think its wonderful that Michelles mother is moving in with them. Shes going to keep the grand kids in line. I just cannot wait to see them little black girls running around in that White House and on that lawn. They are going to be all over the place. And you know the Secret Service is going to have a time keeping track of them, especially that little one. Shes going to be everywhere.

There are things you dream about and you hope one day they might happen, you can see how they could happen. This is something I never even dreamed about. To know this is happening in my lifetime, I can hardly wait. If I could just touch the hem of Obamas garment, Id be satisfied.

I was a cafeteria manager for 44 years and eight months. I remember when people were fighting segregation in Danville. That was something. Jim, my late husband, didnt miss a meeting for how they were going to act when they went downtown for civil rights protests. I would be too afraid. They were singing and praying on the courthouse steps and they shot water at them. The police would hit the people with those big sticks. People would end up in the hospital. It was just awful.

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at High Street Baptist Church and he didnt even want to spend the night in Danville.

I did not see all of this because I was afraid to go down there. I would cook food for Jim to take to the meetings and I sent money for the ladies to get their hair fixed after they turned the hoses on them.

I know it wasnt just black people that put Obama there. There were some white people who put him there. Thats just mind-blowing.

Cant nobody tell me this man is not God-sent. The things they have thrown at him. They have said everything under the sun about him and he remains so cool. You just dont find folks like that now.

I cant wait for the inauguration. If I was younger, Id have myself an inauguration party. I have a friend. Shes 85. Ive never known her to be up in the air excited about anything. We are up until 2 and 3 in the morning talking about Obama.

I got an Obama calendar and a friend brought me an Obama plate. I want an Obama mug. When you walk into my living room, thats who youre looking at Obama honey child.

Im going to be ready for Tuesday morning. Im going to make me a pot of soup Friday. Im going to fix me some sandwiches and some dip and some crackers. Im going to put my green tea in a cooler and bring it in here. Im going to have everything I need in here by my bedside table so I dont have to get up for anything. Im going to be in my comfortable chair where I can just sit and look and not miss a thing. I do not want to miss a minute of this.

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