I am Mrs. Willie M. Griggs, a Negro midwife of Shaw, Mississippi. Let me, for a few-minutes, have your attention on the subject "My State and My Nation."
I choose this subject because I feel this is my State and my Nation. I am not asking to be mayor, governor or president; I only want to be accepted in this God-created (not man-created) world. Because I feel that God made this world for me, too, or he wouldn't have made me.
Abraham Lincoln said in his address, "Our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." But personally, are we? Are we really?
Here in Mississippi, our wages are extremely low (as if we don't work longer hours). Ten hours a day is the system.
Another thing is our history. I feel if we had a part in your history books (without being a slave) you would understand us better. You see we weren't always slaves. We fought in wars too.
Maybe we weren't as smart in our books as you were so we were made into fools because of our lack of knowledge. I believe we had some great heroes, only their names weren't recorded or the credit was given to you. Maybe the medals were given to us and you (whites) got the credit, with your name written for all the records.
I don't want you smiling at me because you feel it your duty or that you have to. I want my people to work with you without asking themselves, are they truly being friendly or just pretending so they can stand next to my black face so their theirs can shine out whereas it wouldn't shine among their own race.
Let's be reasonable. In the eyes of God we are equal. But man don't think so. We as Negroes are judged by the worst one of us. Whereas you (whites) are judge by our president in most cases.
We were ignorant but we can be just as intelligent as you. We have, too, on our side great men, doctors, scientists, etc. We can work together without being completely invisible.
Let's face it, we are liVing each day in this world together and I do believe we can help each other. If I extended my hand to you now, saying let's be friends, would you accept it with feelings of Superiority over me because my skin is black? Or because I am a Negro? Or would you accept it with gratitute?
Yours very truly,
Willie M. Griggs
Copyright © Willie M. Griggs, 1965
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