Baby Boomers Want to Know: If Life Is a Celebration, Why Not Death?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

 

You’d never know it to look at her today, but Letitia Williams was once a proud “hippy” who wore bell-bottom pants and weathered sandals and teased her hair into a tall afro, sometimes just to get a rise out of her peers at a Midwestern college.

Most days, she succeeded. And she was an instructor, not a student. Her persona alone prompted colleagues to murmur their dissatisfaction by labeling her a “radical” during staff meetings. She heard them, and they heard her right back when she exhorted students to protest the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.

Such independence of dress, thought and action cost Letitia dearly: despite her sharp, analytical mind, her insightful knowledge of American and British literature and her skill at turning a poetic phrase, she was denied tenure again and again. No matter that she was also labeled a “prodigy”; her age was often cited as the official reason for the denials. She was in her mid-20s and was told that she was “too young” and “had time” to reapply.

The truth, as Letitia sees it, is that she never stood a chance because she was too outspoken and too black. And now, as much she sometimes hates to admit it, she believes she is now running out of time.

At age 66, and…. click here for more