Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Article

The rebellious teen

Catherine Cauley was a 14-year-old in Cordele, Ga., in 1956 when her grandmother sent her to the store with more than a dollar to buy flour and fatback.

At the store, young Catherine laid the money on the counter, only to be ignored by the white storeowner who instead began to take money from the white people behind Catherine in the line. Catherine challenged the storeowner, asking for service.

"She said, 'You have to wait,'" Cauley, now 66, recalled. And the storeowner added, "You have to tell me 'Yes, ma'am' and 'No ma'am.'"

"I said, 'No I don't,'" Cauley said.

Later, at home, Cauley's grandmother told her the storeowner's family had complained about her behavior. Very soon thereafter, Cauley was sent to Rochester to join her mother, who'd moved here after her husband's death to try to make a living and send money back to the family. "They told my grandmother, 'If you don't get her out of the state of Georgia, she might be killed,'" Cauley recalled.

On Tuesday, that incident seemed so very far away, Cauley said.

"Excuse my French, but all I could say was, 'Oh, hell yeah,'" Cauley said about her reaction while watching the election results Tuesday evening.

Cauley said she hopes the younger generation truly grasps the significance of last week.

Recently, Cauley said, she was in a neighborhood market and encountered an African-American teenager with "a little thuggish attitude."

This was not, Cauley said, the same kind of rebellious streak she had exhibited decades ago in Georgia.

"He was just being disrespectful," she said.

"I asked him, 'What did you learn in school today?' He said, 'Nothing.' I said, 'That's your problem. You went to school and didn't try to learn a thing. Learn something and one day you could be president of the United States.' ''

"That was two weeks ago," she said.

"And Tuesday, it happened." Source

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

yeah i read that!!! i was very touched. and to think i met her. there are so many untold stories behind everyone.