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Selections from the 2018 Young Authors’ Book Project, Through the Same Halls: “The Unknown Mary Brown”

“I’ve constantly been pulled over by police officers, I’ve been banged on and shot at by gangbangers, and have been racially profiled in a clothing store.”

—Cameron H., Young Authors’ Book Project student author


2018 Young Authors’ Book Project anthology Through the Same Halls

Through the Same Halls available for purchase here

My grandmother’s name was Mary Brown, and I picked her as my elder because her life intrigued me, even though I never got to meet her in person. What I wrote in this book is the story of my grandma’s life and the adversities she overcame when she was alive.

Mary Brown was a very nice person toward everyone in her community in the city of Chicago, where she was born and raised. She was about five feet, six inches tall with dark brown hair, and a very light-skinned complexion. She raised my mom and her two sons the best she could after her husband passed away. She played the piano and was a backup singer for a music group back in the 1960s. She helped out in the church she used to attend.

My grandma passed away before I was born. Although, sitting down with my mom and talking about it made it feel as if I met Mary personally. We both like music such as Al Green. Listening to how my grandma was and how I am now makes me think we’re almost the same person. Once I figured this out, it got real personal for me, and I got a little sad because I never got to meet her. I don’t know how she would’ve been as a grandma, but I feel like she would be proud of me.

“Listening to how my grandma was and how I am now makes me think we’re almost the same person.”

When my grandma was seventeen, she was living in the dead-center of Chicago, which was a very dangerous place. It still is, even now. She entered the police department as a translator; she took it upon herself to learn seven different languages, some she learned from her parents because they were mixed with Portuguese and Native American, so they knew different languages, too, and contributed to the community. However, this made some other African Americans in the community not respect her anymore because she chose to work for the police department. Plus, other officers didn’t respect her because she was colored. She really had a tough time, but she persevered and became very good at it .She even participated in the MLK demonstration in Chicago.

When her husband passed away, she saw this as an opportunity to share her secret. She announced she was openly gay in front of her whole church. I do not know more about this because she and my mother stopped getting along once she came out. My mom will not give more details about it.

“She announced she was openly gay in front of her whole church.”

I was born in Inglewood, but I was raised in South Central. I didn’t have to go through nearly as much as my grandma did, but I do have my own challenges. I’ve constantly been pulled over by police officers, I’ve been banged on and shot at by gangbangers, and have been racially profiled in a clothing store. With the store situation, I went in to buy whatever I wanted after saving my money from my job with the park. I was browsing the store and one of the employees kept coming back to ask if I needed any help, and I replied, “No thank you.” After I got what I wanted, I walked towards the line and the manager asked if I could empty my pockets as if I had stolen something. I let him know how I felt when they harassed me, and they apologized. I dropped the clothes I wanted and I’ve never been back to that store.

“I get off my bike to open my apartment gate. The police asked me to put my hands up and asked if I had a gun or weed on me.”

Concerning the police situation, I had just gotten off of work. I get off my bike to open my apartment gate. The police asked me to put my hands up and asked if I had a gun or weed on me. They put me against the wall and were going to put me in handcuffs until they saw my sister, then they let me go. With all of these experiences, I could’ve turned out worse, but I didn’t. I know what I want to be in life and these little bumps won’t knock my focus off track.

Regarding physical traits, my grandma and I only have our hair color in common. We have other traits in common like how we behave, similar abilities, and hobbies. My grandma and I have very little tolerance for annoying things—as soon as something bothers us we would stop dealing with it. She was also a very good writer, and my family says I’m the best writer in the family, like her. We both read books a lot when we were younger, nonfiction about monsters and things like that. We both enjoyed swimming; I used to like going skating but she loved it until the day she died.

“I know what I want to be in life and these little bumps won’t knock my focus off track.”

I’m always told I act differently from my brothers and sisters. I was considered more considerate and responsible than my siblings by the time I was nine. My siblings saw the things I did as weird so I always felt different. Until one day I decided to ask my mom about my grandma and she told me I act like her. Now I don’t feel as alone about the way I act. She was successful in her life, and, as far as I am concerned, the way I act is helping me be successful too.


About the Author

Cameron H. was born in Inglewood, California. Even though he has seen hardship, he knows he wants to better himself. In fact, he has been offered a scholarship to ASU which makes him feel like he is doing what he is supposed to be doing. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Cameron discovered he and his grandma are both very good writers. Even though he never met her, he now feels a connection to her he never would have known prior to writing this story. 

 


Read more about the 2018 Young Authors’ Book Project here. Through the Same Halls is available for purchase in-stores at the Time Travel Mart or online here.

Photos courtesy of Star Montana and Las Fotos Project.

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