This week my mother transitioned this week after a two year battle with cancer. While this has been a particularly challenging year it has also provide a beautiful experience for she and I to spend everyday together. My mother is the epitome of strength and resilience.
My mother was born in Orville, Alabama the last of eleven children to Nellie and Joseph Gamble. Rosetta was born on July 17, 1947. At the age of 3 the family moved to Mobile for greater work opportunities. My grandparents were respected working class people in Mobile. My mom was very active in high school as a honors student, band member and involved in several clubs at the all black Williamson High School. She loved her high school experience at Williamson. However, the local postman and president of the NAACP and civil rights leader Mr. John Leflore thought my Mom was a perfect student to help integrate the schools in Alabama. Mr. Leflore came met with my grandparents in 1963 and convinced them to allow my mother to be part of a small group of students to enroll in the all white Murphy High School.
Murphy High school was the largest high school in the state of Alabama with a student body of more than 3300 students. The NAACP thought that it was strategically necessary to integrate this particular school based on the school size and history.
The 5th Circuit Court decided that it would be "unfair" to send black students to the white school because the black students would not be able to meet the rigorous academic standards as white students, therefore they required the black students to test in order to enroll in the school. Five black students blew the tests out the water and my mother, Rosetta Brown was one of them.
My mother along with the Davis sisters (Birdie and Betty) were given mental agility tests, academic tests and psychological tests and then screened before they were allowed to enroll into Murphy High School. The environmental was so hostile that the three students had to be escorted by federal agents to class each day. The NAACP provided legal counsel. The student body was made up of 3300 whites in a very hostile environment. The student body held several protest marches to prevent black students from attending the school.
During my mother's senior year in school senior year she was assaulted by a white male student for entering the cafeteria. He threw spaghetti on her dress and then put "something cold" (thought to be a gun) to the side of her head. He was immediately apprehended and tackled to the floor by the federal agents who had been escorting my mother and Birdie Mae to class. Although the racist man was expelled it was later discovered that he was a member of a white supremacist group. A few years later he blew up a synagogue in Mississippi that killed several people and he was later given a life prison sentence.
My mother was a part of what was known as the historic federal Civil Rights case called the Birdie Mae Davis case. She and Birdie Mae Davis graduated from Murphy High school and the school was finally integrated in 1965. After high school she went to Kent State and later attended Tuskegee Institute. Years later in her adult life she moved back to Mobile where she lived until her illness.
In 1975, my Mom was in a car accident where she was pronounced dead at the scene. She was revived after 7 minutes. She also lost her right eye and shattered her collar bone in the accident. Although she suffered major injuries her fight and resilience brought her back home in a few months. She has always been very blessed and lucky woman.
At the age of 38, my Mom went back to college and became the Homecoming Queen at Birmingham Southern College. She was always very proud of that! (smile)
In 1998 she was honored by the National Voting Rights Museum with a Freedom Flame award along with Johnnie Cochran. This was a highlight of her life!
On May 17th she succumbed to breast cancer but she fought a long and hard fight up until the very end. She was a lifelong resident of Mobile. There is so much that I can share about my mother. Most importantly, she was the absolute love of my life. I miss her!