A great woman would have been 100 on Sept. 26

Richard G. Carter | 9/27/2012, 4:15 p.m.
"She could always see me, because she had her heart in her eyes."--John Hodiak, "Somewhere...
Colony Records was my place for original Black R&B

In all the years since, this proud Black American woman turned out to be the best mother any woman could be. In the long, hot summer of 1967, she survived the bombing of the Milwaukee NAACP office, where she worked as its first paid secretary. She also spent countless election days and nights working at polling places and helped her night-working husband succeed in business as he tried, but failed, in politics.

She also prodded me--her sometimes reluctant son--to fully exercise the innate abilities she was always convinced I had. This included making me do my homework instead of running in the streets and urging me to stand up to occasional childhood bullies.

This great lady and model mother went on to make her mark in the Order of the Eastern Star. And she glowed with pride when her daughter--my sister--was accepted into the police department and her grandson--my son--served in the nuclear navy.

My mother also tirelessly worked overtime in her grassroots support for the Rev. Jesse Jackson, as he forged ahead in politics. Years earlier, she had done likewise for my father when he lost a close race for alderman in the city's predominantly Black 6th Ward.

Without this wonderful woman, the late Juanita Carter, my written words never would have been. And believe you me, there is no way I ever could adequately repay her, although I tried mightily over the years--including taking my parents to Hawaii to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary.

Without her caring, love and uncompromising support, I might well have spent my life in the post office. I was stuck there for four years after earning a journalism degree in college back in the days I couldn't get in the door of the white-controlled news media.

On April 4, 1992, Mrs. Carter died at 79 of natural causes in Milwaukee, the city of her birth. When it happened, I was overwhelmed by an uncanny coincidence. My mother and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.--my greatest hero--had passed away on the same date. How proud I am that she shares April 4 with this remarkable human being.

Yes, Sept. 26 is very special to me--my late, great mother's birthday. And I celebrate it regardless where life takes me. So I'll never stop remembering and revering Juanita Carter. She was A-No. 1, top of the heap. How could a son ask for more?