Being Black, Female, & Successful: A Discussion With Three Cleveland Women

Janet Babin- A revised edition of Coretta Scott King's memoir, My Life With Martin Luther King, Jr., was issued in 1993. It seems as fresh today as it was in 1969. Mrs. King's account of her family's experiences speak to the problems of many Cleveland families, as we found out from our three guests.

Tony Holloway- My name is Tony Holloway. I'm 30 years old, work for Forest City, and I live in Ohio City.

Rhonda Savage- I'm Rhonda Savage, a cosmetologist, and I live in the Cleveland area.

April Savage- I'm April Savage, brought up in Cleveland. I'm a Registered Nurse at University Hospitals of Cleveland, and I'm proud to be here today.

JB- April agreed to read excerpts from Mrs. King's memoir as a springboard to start off our discussion. We began with a passage from the second chapter. Coretta Scott was explaining how she met her future husband in Boston. She was attending the New England Conservatory of Music on scholarship, and lived in Beacon Hill. Her friend had told her about Martin Luther King, Jr., and when she found out he was a minister, she writes that she lost interest. Though she was deeply religious, she was moving away from fundamentalism.

AS- "For this and other reasons, I did not attend church regularly when I first went to Boston. I was the only black living in the Beacon Hill section, and I did not feel comfortable going to the churches in that area. I said to myself 'I can workship in my room.'"

I can understand what she went through, as a Black woman, being in certain areas, if it's not predominantly black I can relate to that I can understand how she felt.

TH- Religion is a very sensitive subject. It is where people turn for comfort -- to be in surroundings that are unfamiliar, in the place you look for comfort, that is very difficult.

JB- As our conversation progressed, I asked the women if discrimination is still a part of their daily lives. No one needed a moment to think about a response.

TH- Which day of the week are you talking about...? (laughter)

AS- There's one thing you have to understand -- no matter what happens to me, no matter how much money I make, no matter what car I drive, there's one thing I'll always be, first, and that is black.

TH- I deal with something racially motivated every single day. I'd have to stay home -- it could be a girl in retail at Saks (Fifth Avenue), not that there's anything wrong with retail, gotta love retail, cause where would we be without it, but people in menial jobs treat me with disrespect, and it's all because of race.

RS- We have to remember what Martin Luther King and our black ancestors went through. Their struggle was about freedom, a fight never giving up, it was about love -- and we have to remember that, and remember God.

JB- Rhonda, April and Tony say they'll consider returning the the 90.3 WCPN studios from time to time, to comment on being black, female and successful in a changing world. In Cleveland, Janet Babin, 90.3 WCPN, 90.3 FM.

TM- If reparations were passed and they gave me a check, I just want you to know I'd take it!

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