Dearest Auntie Alice,
Memories of you are precious.
May 18, 2013 has just passed.
I could not stop thinking about you. I remembered you as you were on May 18, 1954. It was the day after the United States Supreme Court handed down its landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
My brother Virgil Demery and I were children. When we came down to breakfast you __Miss Alice Fassitt ( you married in 1955) were sitting in your customary seat at one end of the kitchen table. Even now, I still can see you wearing your red cashmere robe.
Grandfather George Carroll Fassitt already had left for work. Grandmother Adele Nelson Fassitt was milling about the kitchen in the camelback house. Instantly, Virgil Jr. and I knew something really significant had happened.
The Times Picayune newspaper was placed on the table slightly to the left above your plate. It was unopened. You sat mesmerized __glancing repeatedly at the banner headline:
Supreme Court Outlaws Segregation
You spoke only one phrase, “It had to be; It is the law of the land.” Over and over between uncustomary multiple refills of coffee you proclaimed, “It had to be; It is the law of the land.”
You spoke no other words that morning. You dressed and departed the house in silence __off to teach the children.
Virgil and I were confused. We could feel the earth shaking, but we did not know why. As we left for school I asked Grandmother Adele (born 1895 the year before Plessy v. Ferguson 163 U.S. 537 (1896) held that segregation did not violate the law), “What happened? What's this all about?”
Adele Fassitt, your mother, gazing pass me and Virgil __into a long ago century __replied, “It's all about a funeral. Jim Crow is dead.”