All children are my children.
~ Julia Mae McCarty Green (1925-2007)
Dear reader, in today’s column I write with a heavy heart, for last Saturday saw the passing away of a dear friend and mother-figure who mentored me many years … who loved me as her only son.
For 30 years, I have known Mother Julia Mae Green, the first lady of Antioch COGIC in Detroit, Mich. Despite her neurological disorder (degeneration of the cerebellum) that had her wheelchair-bound for many years, Mother Green never saw herself as handicapped, or – if I may be so vulgar – she never saw herself as a cripple. She never complained of her plight – no, not one time. Simply stated, Mother Green was a giant in a wheelchair.
Elder Havious Green, the pastor of Antioch COGIC, was her devoted husband of 61 years. Together these magnificent people produced eight exceptional daughters. Daughter No. 6 was a high school friend who first invited me to her father’s church. All eight daughters have earned advanced degrees (Ph.D.s and M.D.s) in medicine, education, music, linguistics and engineering.
Ten months ago, when I first started writing for WorldNetDaily, I sent a few of my articles to Mother Green, for I knew that she would be more overjoyed than even I at this achievement. Below is the poem I attached with the writings:
March 22, 2007
To Rev. Havious Green
I Remember …
30 years ago you were a father to me when I had no father;
You taught me how to pray, how to give thanks to God,
how to study the Bible
I Remember …
Your wife, Mother Julia Green, teaching me how to type, how to write,
how to write books … to be Profound
I Remember …
Your eight daughters embracing me, making music with me … Being the
Brother they never had
I Remember …
I Remember Antioch Church of God in Christ …
I Remember the Love …
I Remember …
How is this anonymous woman’s life relevant to you and your life? I’m glad you asked. In American culture, people are taught to push and claw your way to “the top.” Today’s society is governed by such clich?s as: “Might makes right.” “I want to be famous!” “The meek shall not inherit the earth.” “Survival of the fittest.” “The end justifies the means.” “Nice guys finish last.” “Kill or be killed.” Perhaps at one time or another we have used these sayings as guiding precepts in our own lives (hopefully, the last one only in a metaphorical sense). However, please allow me the opportunity to introduce you to another worldview: “My strength is made perfect in weakness” – for this was the guiding principle Mother Julia Mae Green lived for over 82 years.
To some people Mother Green was a frail woman to be pitied. That opinion is for people who with myopic vision only look at the outside of a person. However, to those of you who are more discriminating in your assessment of human character, I hope to persuade you that this woman was a giant – a giant temporarily confined in a wheelchair. Why?
- She was a path breaker. In 1942, in the midst of World War II, in the midst of de jure (by law) and de facto (by practice) racial discrimination and at the tender age of 17, Mother Green was the first black person to be hired by the Detroit Public Schools as a secretary. She would later use that skill to teach all eight of her daughters (in addition to many neighborhood kids) how to type on typewriters that she purchased.
- She was a community activist. For her outstanding contributions to the community, Mother Green received commendations from the governor of Michigan, Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, Michigan Chronicle, Jet and Ebony magazines and the NAACP.
- Her memoir, “From Underclass to Independence,” brilliantly chronicled her struggles to raise eight daughters in a violent and lawless big city like Detroit, to help them get their education and to tirelessly support her husband as he built Antioch COGIC and later did missionary work and founded other churches throughout Haiti, Cuba, South America and Africa.
- When she later founded an adjoining day care center named after Dr. Martin Luther King and co-founded with Pastor Green a children’s hospital in Africa, Mother Green’s motto was immortalized: “All children are my children.”
- Mother Green practiced that philosophy with me in a most transcendent manner. Her only son (who was born in the same year as I) tragically died in his sixth month. Therefore, I became her son in his stead. As the poem above narrates, she taught me how to type, how to write, how to write books and to try always to be profound.
During the years I was in college, graduate school and law school, Mother Green would always send me letters of encouragement and love. Years later when I wrote an essay in her honor in my book, “Beyond the Veil: Essays in the Dialectical Style of Socrates,” I mused about those times and wrote the following verses:
For over a dozen years, she and I have corresponded with one another via letters. You have not read a letter until you have received one from this Noble First Lady, for each letter written, each sentence expressed, each paragraph stated, screams Pain and Agony! Yet, she never screams. … She never said a mumbling word.
Even the envelopes I have kept, for they tell her story. The way the stamp is placed somewhat near the upper right-hand corner of the envelope cuts my heart like a two-edged sword, for I only have a very, very, very small inkling of the efforts it took to respond to my letters.
Dear reader, the next time you see a handicapped person, someone who is congenitally ill, blind, insane, a bum on the street, or someone whom you consider “misfortunate,” take a second look and see what lessons God may be trying to teach you by that person’s life.
To the most Noble First Lady of Antioch Church of God in Christ, you were a giant in a wheelchair. And now that you have made your transition from this finite, earthly realm, you are free to fly with the angels.
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