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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Exotic (08/08/13)

TITLE: Coming to change America
By Pamela Reed


The year was 1892. Thomas McCarter arrived in New York to the beckoning arms of the Statue of Liberty. It had been a long journey from Ireland, but one that was leading to his permanent home. Not that the journey was finished. He now had to find his way to Mississippi. The roads were long and winding. It took time, but his dreams were coming true and he was excited about his new life.

The years quickly passed and Tom sent to Oklahoma for a bride. He met and married a Cherokee Indian princess that was brought back to his Mississippi farm. She turned out to be the love of his life. The farm and life they shared was filled with love, even more so when they realized that they were to be blessed with a child. James Harrison McCarter arrived in 1900; but all was not well as the baby was fine, but the mother was lost in child birth. Tom never got over the loss of his beautiful princess bride. It was a sad life, but Thomas taught James responsibility and righteousness to carry on to succeeding generations.

James took his father’s teachings seriously. He married and had children of his own to teach those values to. The farm had many black families working on it. One black family in particular caught the attention and love of the McCarters as that family loved and served the Lord with their whole hearts. Their daughter, Melica, had few clothes, so Mrs. McCarter would take her girl’s clothes and cut them down, sew them, and give them to Melica to wear to church. She wanted her to look nice.

In north Mississippi, there were few schools for black youth. Thomas and James donated the land and the wood that was needed to erect the first school in Lee County where they could attend and learn how to read and write. Not that it was all fun and games as the McCarter children paid a high price. The other children at their school called them names and hurt their feelings and their pride because of their father’s and grandfather’s choices. But as adults, they now understand why it’s important to stand up for others who aren’t able to stand up for themselves.

A few of the men on the farm wanted to move north to achieve a better life for themselves and their families. Thomas and James jointly went to the bank and secured a loan. They advanced the money to those men not knowing if it would be (or could be) repaid. They did what was right because it was right.

Melica grew into a very intelligent woman and wished to attend college. Tom and James made sure that she could. Not all colleges would accept a black woman, but Melica found one, attended, and graduated with honors. She obtained what few women in her position were able to do in the early to mid-1900’s and she made the McCarter’s proud.

In 1955, James’ children were now adults and married with children of their own. During one of the family gatherings, a limousine unexpectedly pulled up in the driveway. A black, middle aged man named David exited the car. James instantly started running to the car with tears in his eyes. His friend had been gone for many years and hugs went around. Sharing the story of arriving in Detroit and getting a job in the auto industry, David had prospered. He drove back to Mississippi for the opportunity to see the man who gave him a better life and repay the loan in full.

James’ daughter, Margie, is 87 today. She is also my neighbor and friend. Margie’s mother took her clothes to cut down for Melica. Although she was not so happy at the age of 9 to give up her dresses for another, her parents influence taught her that sometimes it’s in everyone’s best interest to put other people first.

Margie is so proud. She exclaims “these are my people – my Grandfather came from another land and improved the lives of many families here. He taught my father and my father taught me.”

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This article has been read 218 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/15/13
I love this story. It's intense and has such a huge part of history in it.

I know it was hard to fit in all that you wanted to say in only 750 words. Because of that, you never really introduced David and his close relationship to James. It's so hard to know what to cut out of a story like this because it is all important to you. I often run into the same problem.

I'm not sure if you needed the paragraph about the first generation who came to America. That may have left more room to expand on the relationship of the two men. I don't mean this as a criticism, just an objective POV from an outsider.

I think you did a wonderful job of pulling me into this story and I'm so glad you are telling it so that people won't forget what it was like only a few decades ago.

Normally, I wouldn't think of America as exotic, but you opened my eyes and made me rethink my homeland and gave me a new appreciation for it. Great job.
Judith Gayle Smith08/16/13
What a moving, important story. Is it true? If it is, praise God. If fiction - you have a wonderfully imaginative gift, and praise God . . .
Pamela Reed 08/17/13
My neighbor claims that it is true. What a great heritage.
C D Swanson 08/20/13
What a touching and uplifting story. It made my heart smile...powerful.

God bless~