|God, President Kennedy and Me (page 3)|
Being Jackie Kennedy
There were few occasions when I didnt turn to God, and I prayed silently all the way to school. After our classroom prayer during homeroom period, I added my own silent P.S. If it be Thy will . . .
People came by me at my hall monitor post, and a lot of them said, Good luck tonight. I looked back at them quizzically, as if the beauty contest were the furthest thing from my mind.
Why dont you get your hair fixed like Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show? someone asked. You already look a little bit like her.
But it wouldnt be right to copy her, I said, and I shrugged. I just have to be myself.
And myself was going to be Jackie Kennedy. Mary Tyler Moore was cute, but I wasnt settling for her. I was going to be the Presidents Wife.
I walked by the auditorium where wed be having the contest in just a few more hours. The faculty sponsor of the yearbook, Miss Carver, had vetoed the students vote for The Days of Wine and Roses as the theme because she said it wouldnt be seemly to have wine bottles decorating a high school stage. So tonight wed hold crescent-shaped cards bearing our numbers, and Moon River would play as we walked across the stage the same stage where Strom Thurmond had stood while getting a standing ovation earlier in my high school career. I had stood and applauded, too, because even though I disagreed with everything Strom Thurmond stood for, I didn't want to stand out by not standing. I knew I would probably not have made President Kennedy Profiles in Courage, but how many of the men in that book had been rejected for Homeroom Coupon Chairman? I didnt want to alienate my southern friends, and I knew their fears.
|Civil Rights and Communists
In spite of Strom Thurmonds stand against civil rights, the Civil Rights Bill had become law. And those Kennedy Brothers were starting to enforce it. Other things were happening too. Back in April Sidney Poitier had won the Oscar for Lilies of the Field, and no colored person had ever won an Oscar before. There he was, up on stage with Patricia Neal, a white lady, and they were hugging each other, which was worse than what Id done with Jean Paul Mathieu. Jean Paul Mathieu might not have been from around here, but at least he was white. Sidney Poitier and Patricia Neal were on their way to misogenation!
Then, in June, thered been that big civil rights march in Washington with more the 200,000 people showing up and hearing Martin Luther King talking about making all people equal no matter what color their skin. If God had wanted all people to be equal, my friends reasoned, wouldnt He have made them equally white? And then President Kennedy had sent troops to Alabama to force an all-white school to accept two colored girls, and theyd enrolled in spite of Governor Wallaces efforts to protect states rights. The federal government was becoming Communist and taking over the country, stirring discontent into the heads of colored people who had been perfectly happy before.
I certainly didnt let my classmates in on my promise to God that Id give my first paycheck to the NAACP if I were chosen our school beauty queen. But I thought God might like that, not necessarily being Southern a possibility I never suggested to my friends. The leader of the NAACP had been assassinated in June, and four Negro children had been killed in a church bombing in Birmingham. I had a hunch that God didnt buy that thing about their being Communists.
So few of her kind