Who has left a tremendous impact on your life? While you are pondering over your thoughts, I would like for you to meet my Great-Grandmother, Ernestine McCafferty, who was born on November 28th, 1943.
Throughout my life, I did not think about the wisdom and the knowledge that both of my Great-Grandparents were instilling into me, but at the age of 20, I would personally like to acknowledge my Great-Grandmother and Great-Grandfather for everything that they have done for me. Nonetheless, this article is not centered around my Great-Grandfather, but this article is centered around my Great-Grandmother who was not only a part of the Civil Rights Movement, but she also raised children during the Civil Rights Movement. At only the age of 85 years old, my Great-Grandmother has left a remarkable impact not only on her family but on the people in her community and church home.
On April 30th, 2020, I prepared for my interview by gathering my Great-Grandmother, Ernestine McCafferty, into the living room. My interview went a little something like this, “In one sentence, how do you feel about the Civil Rights Movement?” While I patiently waited on a response, my Great-Grandmother responded by saying, “The Civil Rights Movement needed to happen.” Some people might be appalled by my Great-Grandmothers’ response, but this is her story and I am willing to tell her story.
During the Civil Rights Movement, my Great-Grandmother and Great-Grandfather had 3 children, who are Delores, Mary, and Randall McCafferty (listed from oldest to youngest). When I questioned my Great-Grandmother about raising children during the Civil Rights Movement, she responded by saying, “ Raising children during the Civil Rights Movement was not difficult at all, but she always told her children the truth about what was going on during that time .”
Another question that sparked my interest was, “How did you handle telling your 3 children about what was going on during the Civil Rights Movement?” She simply responded by saying,” I always reminded my children that they were special and that the color of their skin did not have anything to do with them.” For some parents during a movement, they would probably sugar coat to their children what was truly going on, but my Great-Grandmother clearly stated that “ Delores, Mary, and Randall were well aware of what was going on during the Civil Rights Movement because Charles McCafferty, their father, and my Great-Grandfather, would take them to march with him during the marches and demonstrations that were going on.” My interview with my Great-Grandmother was truly overwhelming because all of my life, I thought that I knew everything that I needed to know regarding my Great-Grandmother and her history, but I did not know even half of it.
[With my Great-Grandmother being the Matriarch of the family, she is very stern and loving and she clearly stated that she does not and will not tolerate any nonsense. As a family, we abide by her rules and try to keep her and my Great-Grandfather happy and safe.]
I can honestly say that everything that my Great-Grandmother experienced, molded her into the woman that she is today. At 85 years old, she is still a busybody and she is constantly enlightening the family on subjects or situations that we may be unfamiliar with.
When I questioned Great-Grandmother, Ernestine McCafferty, about dating when she was younger, she automatically responded by saying, “There was a huge difference between going out on dates now versus going out on dates during her time.” Along with this, she stated, “During their time, they did not have cars which meant that they would have to walk everywhere.” From growing up in the 21st Century, I can genuinely say that times have changed and that we are blessed. Even though I would like to experience walking around with my significant other everywhere, I know that times have changed and that it is not very safe to walk around everywhere. When I asked my Great-Grandmother about what they would do on their dates, she simply stated that they would go to Cafes, Movies, Clubs, Parks, and if they would like, they would go Dancing. During her time, she stated, “Cafes were known as restaurants, but they were not called restaurants.” While we may constantly complain about where we should go and where we would like to go, they did not have the same luxuries as us and they also worked with what they had.
My Great-Grandmother, Ernestine McCafferty, is 85 years old and she is doing amazing for her age and I believe that she will be around for a very long time to continue to teach us and open our eyes to many things such as our history and culture.
Written By: Nakiyah McCafferty
My name is Nakiyah McCafferty and I am from Birmingham, Alabama. I am currently a rising Junior at Alabama State University. I am majoring in Social Work where I aspire to become a Medical Social Worker.