Little hurts, schoolgirl crushes, firsts, lasts, and thoughts: It’s all written in your journal so you’d see where you came from and where you’re going.
But would you want your children or grandchildren to read your journals, unedited, warts and all? Pearl Cleage thinks her daughter might. Maybe. And in her new book, “Things I ShouldHave Told My Daughter,” (Atria, $23.99) she explains why.
The “no” came as no surprise: as a 15-year-old, Cleage’s daughter, Deignan, declined the opportunity to read her mother’s journals. So when Cleage offered to keep the journals for her granddaughter to read someday, Deignan turned her down, saying that the toddler didn’t need to read them, either.
Deignan figured she understood what happened in Cleage’s life. She was there for much of it, after all, but Cleage wondered if the things her daughter never knew were just as important as the things she knew. There were lessons to learn, and Cleage chose to begin with Jan. 9, 1970.
Twenty-one-year-old Cleage was at a party that night, commiserating with the wife of a friend on his way to jail. Politics and activism were a major part of Cleage’s life then: she had many friends in the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), had met Coretta Scott King, was a supporter of Angela Davis and, later, worked with Maynard Jackson. Racial issues were on her mind a lot then, as was sexism and feminism.
Though it would alter her plans for her future, Cleage thought about having a baby in her mid-20s. She didn’t mention it to her then-husband, Michael Lomax, but she often wondered what their child might look like. In August of 1974, she found out. Giving birth wasn’t hard. Motherhood sometimes was.
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SOURCE: The Philadelphia Tribune