I Would Have Voted For This Guy...

...but I was too young to vote in 1968. I was 15. I went to bed on June 5 that year, not knowing if Bobby Kennedy, newly victorious in the California Democratic presidential primary, would live through the night. I stayed up way past my bedtime and went to bed replaying in my mind the television pictures of Ethel Kennedy pleading for photographers to give her husband breathing room as he lay bleeding on the kitchen floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

The next morning, I scrambled out of a fitful sleep to ask my mother, "What happened? Did he live? Is he alive?"

As my mother bit her lip and shook her head, I burst into tears. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated that April; now Bobby was gone. I was a freshman in high school and I had no power. But today I do. Georgia's presidential primary election is tomorrow. I will be at my polling place, first thing, to vote vote vote.
And I will write about 1968, in my Sixties Trilogy, which I will be chronicling here at One Pomegranate. Thank you, Maura, for the CD of RFK speeches -- it arrived this week and I am transported.

I'll be writing about voting, too. It seems such an uninteresting word, "voting." But it is powerful -- I hope to show this throughout my Sixties novels. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 abolished the so-called literacy test, and brought the vote to millions of disenfranchised voters, most of them black, many of them poor. Today we have a black man running for president. And a woman -- women didn't have the vote until the nineteenth amendment was ratified in 1920. Black women didn't vote in any substantial numbers until the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

When I pull my voting lever, I stand on the shoulders of so many women -- and men -- of all races and persuasions who have fought over the long years for my right to vote and be heard. I can't wait for my opportunity to vote on Tuesday, and again in November. I wish Bobby Kennedy were here today. I wish. And you know... I can almost have him back. I read about him, I look at pictures about his life, I talk about him with other people, especially at this pivotal time in history, and I wish him back again by writing about him. I'm telling a story with my 1968 book, and Bob Kennedy is at its heart. Maybe he *is* its heart.

Speaking of hearts, several of you have asked about where you can find the February issue of Hallmark Magazine -- thanks so much for the kind words. The magazine is in its inaugural year and available at most Hallmark Gold Crown stores. Click here for the February issue online, and here to go directly to the story I wrote. (That's not me -- or Jim -- in the photo, haha.) My essay is the third story on the page, titled "Second-Chance Reunion." There's no photo here -- the photo (and layout) is here.

I have pictures now of the writing residency day at Mantua Elementary. I'll post them in the next couple of days, along with some thoughts about teaching writing -- can it be taught? Or do we teach, really, ways of looking at the world and our lives, and ways to access what we really have to say. I know I use my writing as a tool to archive who I have been, to figure out who I am becoming, and to keep alive those I have loved and lost.

"Few will have the greatness to bend history; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation ... It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." -- Robert F. Kennedy