I couldn't believe my senses this past week as I and millions of others watched with horror at the unfolding of events at Virginia Tech. First it was one, then 20, then 31 and finally it was 33 people who were gunned down by what appears to be a lone gunman, Cho Seung-Hui. How utterly sad and incomprehensible!
      There are probably all kinds of things I could write about this tragedy, from gun control to individual freedom to violence, but I think I will leave that for another day. There is a time and season for everything and now is the season to mourn these victims and to cherish the acts of heroism that occurred during those fateful minutes. I pray that God's presence is in the lives of the families and friends who have been left behind.
      This incident reminds me how small I am in the vastness of this world and that nothing is ever guaranteed: not our lives, not our health, not our future. Violence seems to crop up everywhere. It is only by the grace of God that I go forth and breathe every breath. I am grateful for the life God has given me and the safety of my loved ones.

***
      It is truly important for us to cherish those who play important roles in our lives for we never know when they will be taken from us. When I was younger, much younger, I acted and felt as if those in my life would be there forever. Ah, the naivete; of youth. So many have passed out of my life. Ten days from now marks the eighth anniversary of one such dear friend, Betty Franklin-Hammonds. Betty passed on April 28, 1999 from an asthma attack. We had been good friends for almost 14 years and had worked hard together on civil rights issues.
      Her death was a big blow because we were tight and I knew Betty always had my back as I did hers. You don't get that many friendships like that out of life. I didn't really realize that until after Betty passed.
      I remember back to the events after Betty's death. Her funeral filled High PointChurch on Madison's far west side. There was much media coverage and tributes to Betty came from every quarter. She was almost raised to sainthood in the days after her death and funeral. Betty was hardly perfect, but gosh, she was good people. And the invisible acts of kindness she performed constantly throughout her life are what made her truly great in the eyes of righteousness and I surely feel God.
      I remember that there was a call to name the city of Madison's Municipal Building after her. The clamor was loud, but short lived. As the days became months and the months became years, the fervor died down and I don't think much  has been made of it over the past 2-3 years. That is a crying shame.
      I think Betty embodied many characteristics that this community should tout. She was very civic-minded and devoted many free hours on many civil rights and community causes. Betty was engaged having served on non-profit boards  and committees and was active in the Dane County Democratic Party. She loved children and endlessly promoted the academic achievement of students of color, particularly African American students.
      Betty worked very well in diverse situations. Her friends were diverse and she worked collaboratively with Centro Hispano and United Refugee Services on joint projects when she was president of the Urban League of Greater Madison and kept the friendships she made on those projects long after they ended.
      Betty also gave everyone respect. She had no problem going into low-income housing projects and greeting people by name and selling them some home-grown greens from her garden.
      Now perhaps it was due to her altruism that Betty didn't amass a great fortune. And it seems that only wealthy people   who make contributions to building funds have buildings named after them these days.
      But shouldn't a building be named after Betty? While it is definitely something she wouldn't have been concerned with while she was alive, shouldn't one be named after her because she embodied so many of the qualities that this community needs as it becomes more diverse in the 21st century? Aren't these the qualities we would want to hold up to our children and future leaders as something they should emulate? Think about it. Maybe there is something we can do about it.
      I still miss you Betty. I always will.
APRIL 18, 2007
stories/columns

*
The Literary Divide: Don Imus crossed the line,
by Dr. Paul Barrows

*
Hip Hop revisited: An interview with Dr. Gwendolyn Pough,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
LaMarr Billups heads to Georgetown (Part 2),
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Politicas de hoy: La REAL ID ad del miedo,
por Alfonso Zepeda Capistran

* Kirstin Chavez at Madison Symphony Orchestra,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Asian Wisconzine - Chinese Spring Gala in Madison,
by Heidi M. Pascual
*
Dragon land: A poem
by Kabzuag Vaj

(
www.asianwisconzine.com)

*
Simple things: Poetry,
by Lang Kenneth Haynes

* Poetry
*
by Dr. Daniel Kunene
*
by Fabu
*
by Eileen Hocker

*
KinderReady: School preparedness for minority kids,
by Laura Salinger

*
2007 YWCA Women of distinction

*
Is Hip Hop dead?
by Karay Reynolds

*
Ask Dr. Al,
by Dr. Algernon Felice

*  5LINX Telecommunications:
Can you see me now?
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Celebrate Madison,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
China Dispatch:
Goodbye  Anqing
,
by Andrew Gramling

* NAACP Health Luncheon,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
2007 Building Winners Luncheon,
by Jonathan Gramling

*
Wisconsin Union Theater's 2007-2008 Season
VOL 2 No. 8                              April 18, 2007
Home and Redemption
The cast of Madison Repertory Theatre's HOME
Reflections/Jonathan D. Gramling
                                  
By the grace of God ...
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