We had been cooped up at home for more than a week. At first we were feverish and fatigued, then insatiably itchy and now, we were restless and antsy. The chickenpox had made an unwelcome visit to our house and my six-year-old sister and my eight-year old self had had enough of being cooped up. An adept and creative problem solver, my mom has a deep-seated curiosity and an interest in cultivating new experiences. No longer contagious – but still quite a sight to see I’m sure – we were told to get dressed and promptly found ourselves out in the world.
As we drove, my mom explained that we were going to see the man who might be our next President. Jesse Jackson was a front-runner for the democratic nomination that year and was making a stop at the Sheboygan Armory. Upon arriving, we took our seats in the last row of chairs on the gym floor and along with 1,500 others, began to wait. And wait.It was nearly two hours past his scheduled time to appear when Jesse Jackson assumed the stage.
I have no recollection of the speech itself but remember the continuous applause and multiple standing ovations. When it was over, he worked his way through the crowd, shaking hands along the way. When he reached the back row, he didn’t hesitate to extend his hand and take my sister’s, and then my own, in his.
Even the chickenpox has a silver lining… I got to meet a presidential candidate for the first time. But looking back, even more importantly, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to meet the man that marched with MLK Jr., who has long advocated for the disenfranchised and disadvantaged, and whose fight for equity and social justice continues to this day.