Mattie Lee Martin taught me many things. She was my dearest friend for many years. She was my mentor and my teacher. I did not see the color of her skin. To me she was love.
So, when I became a teacher, I saw no difference between my black children and my white children. What I saw was many children who could not read. That motivated me to get into politics and run for the school board.
Because I did so, I was privileged to view the power of simple faith.
My husband and I both come from privileged homes. When I ventured into politics driven by what I had seen in my classes, we were told that white politicians were encouraged to go into the Black community to attend the prayer breakfast that rotated from church to church. We did so and were warmly welcomed.
My husband and I are still moved by the prayer that morning. An old white-haired gentleman, wearing a well-worn, shiny black suit, cane hanging on the back of his chair, folded his calloused hands and closed his cloudy eyes. "Lord," he said. "Thank you that I opened my eyes this morning. Thank you that I could see this beautiful world. Thank you that I could sit up. Thank you that I could put my feets to the floor. Thank you that I had shoes to put on my feets. Thank you that I could stand. Thank you that I have warm clothes to wear here to your house. Thank you that I have food to eat. And friends to eat it with. Thank you for Jesus. Amen."
Sometimes it is a good thing to be called to recall what is really important. That prayer puts everything into perspective.
By the way, I lost. But I still benefit from having run, because I will never forget the lesson taught me in that church.