Rest in Peace, Juanita Goggins

h/t The Huffington Post

How do we get from this …

Juanita Willmon-Goggins (1934- )
As a graduate of SC State University, University of South Carolina, and Winthrop University Ms. Willmon-Goggins became the first African-American woman to be elected to the SC General Assembly. Born in Pendleton, SC she would also become the first African-American woman to serve on the United States Civil Rights Commission. To add to her list of firsts, she was also the first African-American woman to serve as a state delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Currently she is the President of the Juanita W. Goggins School of Excellence.

“Goggins, whose achievements included key legislation on school funding, kindergarten and class size, had become increasingly reclusive. She spent her final years turning down help from neighbors who knew little of her history-making past. Her body was not discovered for more than a week.

Those neighbors, as well as former colleagues and relatives, are now left wondering whether they could have done more to help.”

Photo courtesy of the South Carolina African American History Calendar

… to this?

“When Juanita Goggins became the first black woman elected to the South Carolina Legislature in 1974, she was hailed as a trailblazer and twice visited the president at the White House.

Three decades later, she froze to death at age 75, a solitary figure living in a rented house four miles from the gleaming Statehouse dome.”

Heartbreaking.  She came from my father’s part of the world where there were many well educated, accomplished, entrepreneurial African Americans.  She died broke and alone.  How?  Why?  Her own personality?  The continuing unravelling of community?  Her story is our story.

If the reports are true, this is another reminder that the strong black woman myth needs to be deconstructed – yesterday.  Let’s seriously reevaluate the true worth of pride and independence.

Do you have what you need in your life to live?  Do you have a community?  Are you replenishing it?  Are you giving and receiving?

Rest in Peace Hon. Goggins.

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About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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