Today at Mary Mitchell we celebrated Valentine’s Day.
A lot of the children were quite when Miss Josefina, who is Dominican, explained to them that Valentine’s Day is not only about love between a woman and a man but is also about celebrating your friends. In the Dominican Republic the term they use on Valentine’s Day is el dia del amor y la amistad. She said in DR it’s more about friendship.
Here is a photo I took last year of a group of friends who happen to be in the right place at the right time.
They are posing in the Bronx in the West Farms Area near the 2 and 5 train-station. The art work is a sculpture done by Gabriel Salazar.
Hi Tony! Sensei Will was telling me you grew up in North Carolina.
Yeah, I did.
He told me a little bit about your past and the racism that you had to endure with as a child. He said something about how you were tied to a tree?
Yes. I was. That happen when I was a little boy. I was only in the third grade. I remember it like yesterday. What happened was, it was Valentine’s Day. All the kids brought in candies and gifts. We had a little party. A little white girl gave me some heart shape candy and kissed me on the cheek. You know that colorful candy with words on it shaped like a heart? Well, we had that candy back in the days too!
Anyways, when it was time to go home boys, around my age and a little older, followed me and my brother taunting us along the way. Telling us we shouldn’t be liking any white girls and things of that sort. They beat us up and then proceeded to drag us into the woods. Next, they tied us to a tree telling us they were going to leave us there for the bears to get us. We as children were terrified. It began to get dark and we were still there. Then, I saw the bushes move and that’s when I began to struggle a little more to get unloose.
Finally, the rope came unloose and I untied my brother. We first had to find our way out of the woods being that it was night-time. When we got home, the base (we lived on an army base) was filled with cops and others looking for us. When we told them what happened, nothing was done to punish the boys who taunted us.
Tony is a Martial Arts instructor at the Mary Mitchell Center. He shared his story about growing up in the south with the Mary Mitchell family.