I received a beautiful email this morning from one of the Clinton 12
, Jo Ann Allen Boyce
who was in Clinton, Tennessee, last weekend and read my blog about it. What a beautiful read. She said:
Dear Chaplain Dan,
My name is Jo Ann C. Allen Boyce. You may or may not recognize it from hearing it during the recent celebrations in Clinton, TN. I am one of the Clinton 12. Since my return home to California, I have spent the better part of the past week surfing the Internet for any and all information, tidbits, etc that I could find on, what is for me, another life altering experience. I am once again preparing to put together a
scrapbook of these events such as I did in 1956. During my search, I almost passed up your site on the menu. Happily, I did not and was so gratified to read your remarks on the Sunday services held at the First Baptist. Church.
I had remarked to my daughter on Saturday evening, that I didn't think things could get any better. Since our arrival on early Thursday morning, every event held honoring me and my friends and former classmates was more special than the previous, although each event presented some spontaneous activity that will stand out in my heart forever. But then came Sunday! The presence of God could not have been more evident! From all of the choirs glorious renderings, to the congregations community singing, from the ministers prayers and remarks, to the sermon of the day, to Rev. Paul's unforgettable and loving message of hope and love which has always lifted my spirits, to the outpouring of love and appreciation for us, the Clinton 12 and the
feelings of us all, black and white, coming together and celebrating in unity the one and only Master of each and everyone, l it was a day I shall never forget. As Alfred Williams so aptly put it, Reverend Turner is a hero to us 12 students he so courageously walked with along with two other brave men. He was a hero to our
community during those horrific months when we, and all the people of Clinton, lived in fear of the uncertainty of each new day. I know he was a hero to my parents and
family because he dared to take a stand; he not only talked the talk but walked the walk. That this period in our history had such a tragic impact on his life will never be lost to me. I thank God for him always and thank God for his wife and family who had to endure as much hate as we (the Clinton 12 and the black community had to endure before August 27, 1956, during and in the months and years that followed.
That Clinton, which had been and is once again a small, beautiful and peaceful town, was awakened in such a manner was in my view a testimony to God's hand reaching out and giving us all opportunities to make our town, our state, the rest of America, a kinder, more loving, more God filled place to live. That Clinton has responded in such a kind and loving way is testimony that God has touched and reached its' people. My heart is full with the sounds, the sights, the smiles, the hugs, the faces of respect and of joy that we, the Clinton 12 did not experience 50 years ago. ALL PRAISES BE TO GOD AND TO THE SON! Thank you my fellow human beings and children of our Lord.
Since you stayed in the same motel as some of us "12" and other event guest, I found your writings on the early mornning fire that rousted me out of bed a little earlier than I had planned, both amusing and appropo. As some of us stood chatting in small circles, we spoke of what we chose to grab on the way out. For me, the answer to 'what would you choose to take out in a fire" is simple. Because of a stroke six ago, I can no longer skip, hop, jump or run. My daughter and I were on the second floor which meant getting down the stairs as quickly as I could. SO, after pulling on some pants over my pajama bottoms, putting on some socks to cover my feet, I reached for my cane. I never thought about my purse or any other belongings except I did have some concerns about losing all the wonderful gifts we had received during our stay, i.e, the key to the city, the proclamation, a special certificate for being a
student at Green McAdoo Elementary School, and other memotos that mean so much to me! Loss of those items would have been more painful than losing my clothes, shoes, or even my purse. But most importantly, my beauriful daughter was there with me and my friends of more than fifty years and my new friends whom I'd just met during all the celebrations. So instead of fretting about the fire, I had a chance to talk with a
young woman who was blind and had been in the last graduating class of Green McAdoo Elementary School in 1965. We held hands and talked and hearing her story reminded me of how incredible my life has been (and by the Grace of God) will continue to be. And so, the Sunday morning fire was just another wake up call to remind us of God's
goodness and mercy. All the glory goes to him for our incredible week-end. GOD IS GREAT! GOD IS GOOD!
Thank you for a most enjoyable read.
Jo Ann Allen BoyceClinton Previously