How My Mother Began Her Very Own Civil Rights Movement (with a crab apple)

When momma was born in 1925

Negros/blacks/AfricanAmericans were not allowed to go to school with white people.  Please read:  “The Reign of Walter Plecker” at


and the “The Virginia Act to Preserve Racial Integrity of 1924” (an era in which my bff, best friend forever, Alexander Cambias, Sr. would like ALL of America to return).  Here at


Although black or (mullato) as described in Plecker’s Census, momma’s family lived rather well.  Even regarding today’s standards her family consisting of twelve, not including their parents, OWNED a 200 plus acre farm in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.  Today the Land belongs to great-great-great Grandfather’s “heirs forever” and in use by the KKK.


Momma and her siblings often told stories of their life in the rural south.  Lives of pleasure & pain, pride & prejudice and a lot of hard work captured them there at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We give a “glimpse” into the history in “My People Were Fishermen” and “Ten Things My Mother Taught Me and Other Myths of the Black Community” archived  here, at  http://www.PoppiShirley’s Weblog.


 Our Family were big story tellers,  they taught us basically, how to think, act and react to life through their stories, rhymes, fables and “jus plain lies” .They would sit and talk hours upon hours reminiscing over their younger days on Mobley Creek Farm.  To us, a living room full of wide-eyed kids, they were larger than life itself, they WERE our Life Surrounded by this great big family circle during our many gatherings while they ate, laughed, sang songs, told tales and secrets and gave us, as children, the essence of our heritage, through story and song.


Did I mention here that included in this circle were my Great Aunties and Uncles, there were 12 of them, my cousins, last count around 150 and, my own siblings, numbering in the thousands at supper time.


 When we were young, and still had a sense of humor, our lives, to me, were great.  I never felt “black” or “ignorant” untill I went to school and “learned” of all my “inadequacies” concerning the brilliant shine of my skin.


There, within the love and warmth of this great family, there was “perfection”.


They tell the story of long ago (sorry mom) of how a large group of them (not including their many friends of the community) were WALKING to school one day, talking laughing, being themselves (entertaining) and eating newly plucked crab apples from one of their MANY fruit trees, when the white children came RIDING by on (they) schoolbus.


 As the bus blew dustily past them, a white kid rolls down his window, sticks his head out and spits at them.(!)


Moma (being My Moma and not even knowing it yet) IMMEDIATELY flings a crab apple into the bus.  The many baseball games played in their yard on Sundays as kids had given my momma an arm the MBL would be envious of today because the crab apple whizzed right through the open window, straight up the aisle, and splat! exploded into a green mess beside the window (and head) of the startled bus driver. 

You go MA!

Confused as to the effect and not the cause of the crime, the bus driver slams on his breaks bringing now a cloud of Virginia red clay to dance in the air and smack the faces of  the, now stopped in their tracks children, on their way to school. 


A Big, (white) now red faced man swung open the bus doors stepping  down, hands on hips, bellows loudly,


WHO THREW THAT CRAB APPLE IN THE BUS! He demanded, holding ample hips.


At once {frightened, still to this day, one crab in the barrel in the crowd} offered up my mother’s name.


Behind her {her brother}, proclaimed,




Given this –piece of forensic evidence-, the bus driver spoke, (dropping hands from heavy hips)




Well, as the story goes, weeks passed without further incidence, however, Time and Attention were not fully paid, when one day, again, a window rolls up and a wad of spit lands, again, at the feet of children, on their way to school.


Immediately, a big heavy foot slams rubber to metal and the bus comes to a screeching halt of iron, flying white folks and dust.  The doors swing open and a crest-fallen young white boy emerges hands- in- pockets and walks drudgingly, alone, down the road. 


Never molested again by spit on their way to school, most went on to gain their prospective (and much coveted) sixth grade education. 


“Ignorant” by standards my mother -didn’t raise no fools-. 


I can see my mother, standing there in her laced up boots of the 1920’s, clean dress with ribbons in her hair, teeth clenched, fist balled and working up a “black sweat”.


  All the while knowing her rightful “place”, at the Table of Kings and Queens. That day, she has taught us, too, she REFUSED to give an inch to the “Study of Stupidity”. 

Surrounded (supported) by her family my mother drew a line in the proverbial Virginia sand, eh, ur, red clay that day.


Proud, beautiful and strong, still, at the age of 83, my mother has been the greatest influence in my life and in the lives of many others.


This past year my mother had the opportunity to meet Nelson Mandela just before he celebrated his 90th birthday.  She spoke to him of her own “private battles regarding racism in America” –“America Denied Me an Education”, she told him.  I am sure, as sure as I am black that  HE came away “enlightened” by my mother.

So, the next time you see a (“green”) apple in the grocery store, think of


How My Mother Began Her Own Civil Rights Movement

(with a crab apple).


And start one of your own.


Stop Complaining!  Start A Revolution!!!!


A Group Project-




1 Comment »

  1. tara said

    i will look at apples in a whole new light now.

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