Grace Walden, a Martyr for Truth
Eulogy by Attorney Lillian Dykes for Grace Walden at her Funeral Service at the Nursing Home in Memphis, TN where she died on June 21, AD1998.
Time, and Place, and Connection: We are tied to life and to each other by time, and place, and our willingness to be connected. We are here at this time and in this place to acknowledge our connectedness to Grace and, because of her, to share this moment connected to one another.
Time and Place are our history. Time and place was Grace’s history. Now instead of then. Here instead of there. Being formed and forming, the history of our lives.
We each know our own story. We know our past, our present, how the thread of themes and people are woven into the fabric of the memory of our lives. Perhaps for each of us, some moments in our time and place appear pivotal. A birth, a death, a child, a decision we made, that changed the course of our destiny. I have mine; you have yours. And Grace had hers.
On April 4, 1968, it was the evening of Grace’s day. It was early afternoon in California where I was, 21 years old and working in a bookstore. Where were you? It won’t be hard for you to remember if you also remember that it was the end of all days for Dr. Martin Luther king, Jr. I was living and you were living and Grace was living out our little unconnected histories on that spring day. It was a pivotal day for me, though I would not realize it for years. It was a crisis in time and place for Grace.
The evening of April 4, 1968 changed all of Grace’s days from that day until the end of her days, and it was the day that was forging the links that would connect Grace and me ten years later, a link that neither of us could imagine. And links were being formed to connect all of us here today.
Grace was fifty-four on that April day that would shape all her days till the end. She had a history before that day and all her history had brought her to a moment when her history would intersect with other histories and link her with worlds she had never dreamed of. On April 4, 1968, God chose Grace to be the only one who would ever be able to say “No” to a great lie. Grace’s life has born witness to the cost of truth. Like Dr. King, who gave his life for his truth across the street from the boarding house, Grace was getting ready to give up her life for her truth as well. Dr. King would go quickly. Grace would pay with her life for a long time.
Why one room and not another in that cheap board
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