I am always reading articles and came across the story of this lady. I enjoyed it greatly and was blessed and amazed by what she has accomplished. I hope it is a blessing to you as well.
Her father and brothers weren't home the hot June night Kay Coles was born. They were hunting bullfrogs in the swamp so that her mother could fry them for supper. There wasn't a doctor around either. The only black doctor in Portsmouth, Virginia couldn't be located. So a neighbor and a nurse-midwife helped in the birth.
Kay was the only daughter in a poor black family with six children. Her father had a brilliant mind and loved classical music. He had been a champion debater in high school and had won several singing contests. he had dreamed of becoming a chemist or a doctor, but he couldn't afford to go to college. Frustrated because he was stuck in lowly jobs, he began to drink heavily.
Kay's mother came from a well-respected family in Richmond. All of her mother's sisters went to college and became professional people. They were middle-class blacks at the time when that was a very rare thing. Since Kay's father was unable to hold a job because of his drinking, her mother's family persuaded them to move to Richmond.
The town of Richmond was completely segregated. That meant blacks couldn't ride at the front of buses. They couldn't use public libraries or swim in public pools. Kay never even had a conversation with a white person until she reached junior high school.
After Kay's father began hitting his wife and older sons, her mom left him and moved the family into a public housing project. Their five-room apartment had a cement floor, walls made of cement blocks, and hundreds of cockroaches. Kay sang in bed to take her mind off the cockroaches that came out when the lights went off.
Some people thought they were lazy or low class because the government paid their rent. Kay worked hard to get good grades, achieve success, and live right to prove her worth to the people who looked down on her.
Kay's mother got on a bus in the early morning, went to her sister's homes to cook and clean for them, and came home after sunset. Only four-feet-seven-inches tall, she had a strong, homegrown faith in Jesus. She took her kids to church on Sundays and wouldn't allow any swearing. When her sons stole chickens because they wanted fried chicken so badly, she threw the birds out. They'd starve, she said, before she'd allow stolen food in their home.
One day Mrs. Coles tearfully said she was sending Kay to live with a wealthy aunt and uncle who didn't have any children. She knew they could give her the things she couldn't - including a college education.
Kay desperately missed her mother and brothers. To make things worse, her aunt was an alcoholic. When she drank, she criticized Kay cruelly. At times she would crumple up her homework, scream that it was all wrong(even when the answers were right), and call her stupid and ignorant. Once again, Kay was being sent the message that she was worthless, inferior, and dumb.
Life became still more difficult when the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools. Kay was one of 26 black students sent to a junior high with 300 whites. Many of the white students resented the blacks and made their lives miserable.
Kay was pricked with pins while walking to class. Sometimes she was stuck so many times that she had to hold her dress against her body to keep the blood from dripping down her legs. She was pushed down the stairs. Teachers gave her papers D's and F's to prove that black children couldn't compete with whites. But the black students hired tutors and worked even harder. After a while, teachers began to grade fairly, and Kay's grades rose to A's and B's.
In church she heard that she was God's beloved child, created in His image. This gave her a sense of worth and dignity that her aunt and hateful whites couldn't destroy. The church also taught her that hate destroys the spirit, but love builds up.
She began reading her Bible every night. She became less concerned with proving herself to others and more concerned with pleasing God. In college she became involved in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. Through Bible studies and prayer meetings she realized that God had not only created her, but He had also created her black. She found a new pride in being black. For the first time, she got to know many white people who were kind and loving.
Following Jesus was not a popular thing to do among the many black students who considered Christianity a religion for whites. At times they ridiculed and harassed her. She didn't enjoy the friction, but kay would later realize that God was preparing her for what she would face in the future.
She graduated and was hired as a manager with AT & T. Because of affirmative action laws, businesses in the early 70s were looking for educated blacks to hire so they would have their minimum percentage of minority employees.
Kay married Charles James and began to move up in the phone company. she quit work when they had children, but she began volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center and became committed to preventing abortions. After they moved to another city, she went to work for a chin of stores and helped start a crisis pregnancy center there.
With a growing family and a busy job, Kay felt she was too busy when she was asked to speak for the pro-life position on a black cable TV show. But her husband reminded her of how strongly they both felt about abortion, and she agreed. Then she learned the program would be aired live nationally during prime time, and she was scared to death. She didn't sleep the night before and kept thinking how awful it would be if she threw up on television.
She faced a woman who had argued the pro-abortion side many times and was well armed with statistics and polls to make it sound right. Kay felt ill-prepared. All she had was a strong belief that abortion was wrong. But that proved to be enough. She did so well in the debate that the National Right to Life Committee asked her to become their national spokesperson.
The next three years were a whirlwind of traveling, debating giving speeches, and holding press conferences. Too busy doing to spend much time learning, Kay often felt poorly prepared and very nervous. For weeks before big debates, she couldn't sleep or eat properly. At times she knew the audience would be hostile, and fear clouded her thinking. She learned to cry out to God for help.
Although mail poured in saying her message had touched people, Kay resigned after three years. She wanted to spend more time with her family and to take care of her mother who was dying of cancer.
Kay Coles James was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and reappointed by President George H. W.Bush as member of the National Commission on Children, an advisory body on children's issues. She served under President George H. W. Bush as Associate Director of the White House Office of national Drug Control Policy and as Assistant Secretary for public affairs at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. She served as the director of the United States Office of Personnel Management for 2001 to 2005 in the George W. Bush administration. She is currently a member of the board of trustees for the Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative Washington, D.C. -based public policy research institue.
I am just an ordinary girl who is loved by an extraordinary God and I seek to love others the same way. I love to bake, read, do puzzles, watch Hallmark movies, and go shopping with my mom! This blog was created as a place where I could share some thoughts that the Lord has shown me and to be an encouragement to others who desire to know Him in a deeper way. My prayer is to learn to sit still and trust God with my future.
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