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Jasmine Livingston, Preston Jackson

Jasmine Livingston

3'h, cast bronze

My name is Jasmine Livingston. This is my story. I did not have time to fully dress before the rocks and the gunshots resounded. They were of such a velocity that some shattered the windows and destroyed the shutters of our shop. I quickly threw on my dressing gown and my straw hat and grabbed my boy-child. On the way toward the front door, I picked up my father's old musket, which had not been fired since the Civil War, and remained toothless and barkless. The only threatening feature it possessed was its past history at Battery Wagner and its dull triple-edged bayonet, that had rusted tight against the barrel.

The townfolk descended upon our neighborhood like angry bees whose nest was disturned by rock-throwing children. My parents were businessfolks here in the Black Belt—my father had a barbershop and my mother straightened hair. Their income was substantial in that place and time, especially for Negroes. This was one of many black-owned businesses that had been established in the Oklahoma Territory. Some families even owned motorcars and had impressive homes built.

It was a hot May night when the pogroms began. That was a word we learned from Mr. Weinstein, the man who helped many black families build their lives here. Now I stand today in the front rosegarden, ready to fend off any would-be intruders attempting to destroy our hard-earned homestead, along with our dignity.

With my mother in a hysterical frenzy, and my father lying in bed with a head wound, my infant soldier and I were now charged with protecting our home fortress. The vines and roses around my feet were reminders of painful sacrifices and beautiful bravery that one must possess when fighting for a righteous cause.

Soon the noise and anger subsided as though a megaphone horn was pointed in another direction. I was relieved, but still afraid as I felt the tight grip of the thorned vines and peered downward where my eyes rested on the calming faces of the roses.

©2006 Preston Jackson