Phoenix 100 Black Women to Host Civil Rights Icon & Historic Musical – Dec 17
By DL White
Ms. Viola Ford was only seven years old the day death, hell and destruction rained down on her humble abode and the bristling Black Business District in Tulsa. Oklahoma, Greenwood, affectingly regarded as Black Wall Street.
On Sunday, December 17, 2pm, in the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 E. 2nd Street, Scottsdale, Arizona, Mother Ford Ferguson along with her grandson – the Co Author of her bestselling “Don’t Let Them Bury My Story” Isaac (Ike) Howard will share the horror and torment that has travelled with her for the past 102 years. She will be joined by the exhilarating and mesmerizing voices that combine to make up Selma the Musical, Untold Stories a meandering melody of song that takes theater goers on musical myriad, deep, vibrant and flowing.
Selma the Musical was written and arranged by JP Haynes, the critical and creative mind that brings the tragic day in 1965 on the Pettis Bridge in Alabama to a new reality and day of triumphant when Dr. King and an army of thousands returned.
Only 15 at the time, the moving musical tells the story of young Lyndia Black, the youngest marcher to complete the 100 plus mile walk, and Joe and Connie, orphaned, and left to raise their younger siblings mostly alone.
Tragic, yet triumphal, Selma spars no punches and delivers its on knockout combination. Right, denied momentarily is always right,
Only seven (7) years old at the time of the attack, Mother Fletcher is a bright and spry 109 years old today.
My grandmother has slept with the lights on, or better stated ‘tried to sleep at night. She can’t. She is up, looking out the window and moving about, even at 109,” shared Howard, the first line of defense grandmothers right-hand and protector.
“I promised my granny we would complete this project (her story) before she caught her wings (transitioned)” noted Howard, who expounded on projects began through their foundation to provide girls in Africa with sanitary pads.
“We have outstanding supporters who see (saw) the importance and timeliness of this project,” noted 100 President Donna Williams, Esq., of this year’s “Legends” program.
“This is historical, no question,” noted Cheryl Ponder, the Program Coordinator who has embraced and cultivated the event with a mother’s unique care…..”This is important,” emphasized Ponder.
Black Wall Street was home to hundreds of black owned and operated businesses, including Bus Stations, an airport, restaurants, tailor shops, barber and beauty shops and a school.
This great city evolved from the relocation and settling in the area of many African American’s following service in Europe during WWI. Other migrated to the area with their Native American brothers and sisters following the great relocation during the Trial of Tears. And yet other, in the migration west from the south and east.
Those settling united to bring about one of the greatest financial centers west of the Mississippi. However, all of that progress, accumulated wealth and business success came to an abrupt end on May 31, and continued through June 1, 1921, when one of the worst domestic acts of terrorism in the nation’s history took place.
The act on humanity was perpetuated by a lie, as so many other acts of hatred were in that day. A lie of a white women being raped, assaulted or even touched was even to stir up an angry mob that history suggest had been planning for months how to take the town from their African American counter parts.
In a matter of hours on May 31, hundreds of innocent and unsuspecting citizens lay dead, once elegant building and businesses – burned to the ground and families displaced. Over 300 lost their lives and livelihood.
“My family relocated not far away in another small town” recalled Mother Ferguson, however, my parents worked farms and their own plot. We did not talk about that tragic day. It was a struggle even at seven.
“In hindsight, I cannot imagine the mental pain and anguish my father must have endured. His friends, some family, all killed and displaced. Still hard to understand.
Mother Ferguson, shared the time to be angry has moved. She is still concerned that the descendants nor she, have received any compensation for their loss. Education (at no charge), land, and certainly financial will began the process to heal somewhat. However, not totally.
“That day will remain with me all my days on this earth, “noted Mother Fletcher.