The Lord has been so good to me that I don’t worry about anything; I have learned to be grateful for the day. I appreciate my parents sending me to the Catholic Elementary Mission School in Key West, FL, where I was born. The sisters there taught us many things about life while we studied the Catechism. To learn about the Bible is to learn about life; it has helped me along the way. My mother was Methodist and my father was baptized Catholic on his deathbed, I, at 10 years old.
In Key West, and everywhere else in my world there were separate schools, bathrooms, water fountains, we had to go to the back door of the store to shop and sit in the balcony at the theatre. In spite of all that, I’ve always believed in prayer. Going to Mass and praying made me feel calm enough to look pass the ignorance. Through prayer, I was encouraged that everything was going to be all right.
When it came time for me to go to high school, I wanted to stay in Catholic schools, but there were none that allowed black children. One option was to move to Rock Castle Virginia to attend the all black Catholic high school there, however my family couldn’t afford it, so I went to Douglas, a public high school.
After graduation I worked in a department store in Florida. A particular white lady came into the store one day and I asked her, “May I help you?” Well, she didn’t want service from me and raised a stink. The owner, who was white, told me, “You are a good worker and I would rather keep you and let her go.” So, you see, just like there were bad white folks, there were some that were good.
I married my high school sweetheart Alvin O. Walker, a Presbyterian, in Maysville Kentucky. We moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1946 when he returned from Japan after serving in WWII because he wanted to attend embalming school and the one in Cincinnati was the only one in the United States that would admit blacks.
I joined Mother of God Catholic Mission when we first got here but changed my membership to St. Agnes once we moved to Bond Hill in 1966. I’ve been a member of this parish for 43 years!
I have been close to death many times, but the Lord preserves my life. It was in 1954 when I was sicker than I have ever been and needed to make up my mind if I was going to have surgery or not. I was scared, but decided to go through with it. All I could do was pray that the Lord would spare me in order to raise my kids. Well, He did and that was the turning point in my life. Since then, if I can do ANYTHING to help somebody, I’ll do it. I pray for others, talk to folks about Catholicism and encourage children to get an education… education is important! So many people suffered and sacrificed for the opportunity for our people to go to school. Children ought to get as much education as they can.