The late C.J. Jones (SNCC) and Meredith C. McGee (Author) at Piney Woods School

The late C.J. Jones (SNCC) and Meredith C. McGee (Author) at Piney Woods School. Thank you for this photo of C.J. This is a special memory. What a special occasion and a special friend. CJ Jones Piney Woods

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  1. We were at Piney Woods School. CJ and I are rural fellows with the Rural Development Leadership Network based in New York, NY. CJ and other fellows obtained a Certification that day in 2015.

    CJ was in the organizations’ first month-long class at UC Davis in Davis, CA during the mid 1980s. I attended a month-long class at UC Davis in 1998. We obtained degree credits at UC Davis. We did course work and field work. We toured Silicon Valley and visited farm workers…

    I completed my masters degree in Rural Community Development & Public Policy from Antioch University McGregor in 2004. Coretta Scott King graduated from Antioch College in 1957. The first black student graduated from Antioch in 1888. I am really proud of those facts.

    CJ was one of the first people I met when I first started working in the non-profit world in 1994. CJ was my former supervisor for a brief period in 1999. Shortly after I was hired, he took a top position at MACE, an old Civil Right organization in Greenwood, MS. I advanced in the organization after he left and learned a lot about administration, donor bases, and fundraising. CJ was a SNCC worker during the Civil Rights era. He spent decades organizing communities in Rural America.

    I worked in Rural America too. I worked mainly in the deep south. I worked with farm cooperatives and later I helped train communities to build and challenge redistricting maps. A portion of my scholarship was provided from USDA. I am also a Billie Jean Young Scholar. Billie Jean is a playwright, a poet, an author, a lawyer, and a college profession at Judson College. She and Aunt Chappell encouraged me to take my poetry seriously.

    CJ and Billie Jean are two of my many mentors.

    When I first attended a meeting with rural fellows, over 20 years ago, I was one of the youngest fellows at the table. Around the table were Indian Tribal leaders, farmers, farm workers, organizers, support staff, politicians, and leaders all from different socioeconomic backgrounds and races.

    If I didn’t understand something, I would ask questions.

    One day one of my co-workers said, “Meredith I would never do what you do!”

    I replied, “What do I do?”

    She said, “You always ask questions and let people know that you don’t know things.”

    I am a life learner and I still ask questions and conduct research on anytime I need to gain a better perspective on.

    RDLN has been to many communities across the country. When we toured an Indian Reservation in Montana, I realized that my former classmate’s people had a lot in common with our people.

    I am still learning what I learned from travelling with a multicultural group for decades.

    I know that I acquired an abundance of social capital. The brother of one of the rural fellows translated “Married to Sin” into Spanish. My sister-in-law edited his translation.

    Back then I was a salaried employee working for non-profit organizations. Today, I am self-employed and I provide community service in my urban community. We have the freedom to create our own agendas, the freedom to serve freely. We are fired up about developing Literacy programs and advancing professionally.

    I have so much freedom. My creativity soars like the big eagle. I can express my thoughts from city hall to the end of the earth.

    The authors who walk through our doors have creative freedom. As an editor, I don’t always like or agree with someone else’s point of view, but someone will appreciate the stance they have taken. Our online bookstore offers an array of works.

    I know people who walked through tunnels, came here with nothing, slept 10 deep in cars, and who are now citizens, who are building blocks for others.

    Every family and every community is made of fragmented pieces. Our greater understanding of other communities helps us appreciate others.

    I have love for so many people who do not look like me, just as well as I have love for my kind.

    Freedom is great but greatness is not one step away. The USA is not quite great yet! A better world is necessary. VOTING is one step. Getting elected officials to change policies is 100 steps away. Real change is not happening next week. But, we must start somewhere. Today is the right day to set our agenda and make something happen in our favor.

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