Evers Pl. is where the Sisters and Cousins gathered. There was constant chatter; as the television on the corner of the kitchen counter blared or the radio attached under the cabinet played- 96.2 FM or WJLB! Literally family members everywhere. From the living room, the dining room, kitchen, and literally almost every one of the four-bedrooms occupied. This was the norm, and I loved it! My Grandparents loved their children, grandchildren, and respective Siblings and their families. #Maddox-BeasleyStrong
From the time I was four-years-old as soon as I made it to Evers Pl. I went straight to my Grandma and Granddad’s room. I’m sure I was in there all the time as a Baby. If not, I was in the pulled-out dresser drawer in Mom’s and my Aunt’s room. #TrueStory #ItWorked
Even when Mom and I moved out, upon arrival to Evers Pl. I went straight upstairs to their room. Some of my fondest memories are being in my Grandparents’ room leaning back on the bottom of their bed. That was the perfect spot to watch Granddad shave his face with Lever 100 soap suds, and look around at the pictures on almost every wall of the room.
There were pictures of my Aunts and Uncles from high school graduations and the military. Of course, there were annual family portraits; all current!! I knew early on that education was important, so you know there were Graduation photos. Two Uncles, the oldest Aunts; and my Grandma’s graduation from college. #MaryGrove
As the family grew and we maintained our annual Olan Mills sessions, framed photos were added; and others moved around. I grew up knowing my Uncle Andy; however, Uncle Calvin was no longer alive. His portrait remained in the same space, even when others were adjusted.
As time went on and I was old enough to actually inquire, I could tell even though years had passed. The topic was still a bit tough for the family to talk about. That said, what I knew was that Uncle Calvin’s death was murder. Two white police officers committed the crime. I also knew and understood why the Sisters waited until we were older to share details.
During one of my after school visits with my Granddad while in high school. I sat in my regular spot at the bottom of their bed. We talked about how our days had gone. Sitting in silence, we just sat. Me looking at pictures. Yep, still! LOL! Granddad looked in my direction. I looked at the same space where Uncle Calvin’s picture was perfectly placed. As we sat quietly, he said “Dinky, your Uncle was killed right before heading to the University.” Immediately after, Granddad turned back to the baseball game on the television, as he listened to another game on his Rolls-Royce car radio.
As Granddad watched and listened with his hands rested behind his head, and legs crossed. I continued to gaze at the photos.
He was a kid. Handsome face. Uncle Calvin wore an Afro, symbolic of his Blackness. Wearing a shirt/sweater that closely resembled a Dashiki and a demeanor, one of intensity and purpose.
How did a young-man headed to North Carolina AT&T, on a full academic scholarship end up murdered just days before leaving? There was a detail not shared until I was much older. Years passed, and it would finally be shared.
They shot uncle Calvin in the back 23 times.
Murdered in the streets by two white police officers.
Take an imaginary walk with me, back to Saturday, July 29, 1972
Calvin Maddox the second oldest son of Andrew and Hellen Maddox’s eight children. Since moving to Royal Oak Township in the late sixties/early seventies. His parents had made it out of the Brewster Projects, with him and his siblings. Calvin had literally walked through white-people rioting. Not protesting!! These hateful people had vicious dogs that the police allowed to attack the Black students as they walked to school.
He’d learned how to organize to IMPACT CHANGE by watching his Mom. Uncle Calvin was well known for his intellect, ability to navigate the system to gain access to all the school amenities his white counterparts could take part in. He had the natural ability to Lead! That said, Black students respected him. They knew Uncle Calvin was doing everything in his power to level the playing field for every Black student; and the Black Community as a whole.
With the Oak Park Police Department located across the street from the High School, Uncle Calvin and every Black Student were routinely harassed as they simply existed. Because of his relentless efforts and successes as it pertained to Uniting the Black Student Body; and a good amount of White students. The police knew exactly who Calvin Maddox was. They didn’t know him as a criminal. He was known for trying to change the lives of comfortable White people in Oak Park. Keeping mind the racial climate at this time, this was not a good thing. Yet Uncle Calvin walked with his head held high, and he would not allow Whiteness to intimate him.
Frequently, my Grandma received calls asking her to speak to her second oldest. The requests were specific, “Mrs. Maddox, we need you to speak with Calvin. Have him cease all activism. He needs to tell the Black Students to settle down. We need the Silent Sit-Ins & Protests to stop! Your son’s activism is disrupting the campus.” She knew he was initiating, organizing, and diligently working to make Oak Park High School a truly equal place for Black Students. Hell, Grandma had been fighting for the rights of not only her children but for every BLACK student that attended the high school. Specifically, those living in the Township. During one of the calls, she knew Calvin was at home ‘ill’. Grandma advised the police, “My Son is at home ill, therefore; I would appreciate if you leave my family alone.”
During a time where police were White. Many racists and others living in a world where their Whiteness made them above Black People simply because that was the way of the world. The beauty of Uncle Calvin was that he was being raised to be a good human; while being aware of the world’s views that he had been living through. Yet never feeling less than. Always striving for excellence and equality as he would not victim; and or let White Supremacy derail him.
Uncle Calvin was coming into manhood as the world around him lacked the desire to locally adhere to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Besides excelling educationally, leading the fight for equality at Oak Park High School, maneuvering through the racially motivated red tape that attempted to hold him back. So, this Friday night, his last one in the city before leaving to college on a full-ride academic scholarship to North Carolina AT&T. He had many stops to make! Friends to see, parties to stop by, and a quick visit Oakland University so he could see his high school sweetheart prior to leaving on Monday.
Uncle Calvin had places to go and people to see!
Not having met my Uncle Calvin, I still am able to envision his level of SWAGGER! So as we travel through this moment. Envision the most confident Black Man you know. See him walking proudly and meticulously dressed. A smile on his face. Well-manicured from head to toe. And the confidence that beamed a path as he walked in stride, causing both men and women to stare. Neighbors that sat on their porches yelled accolades on his recent graduation, and his soon to leave for College. Despite some of his struggles and racial tension, this would definitely be an AMAZING night of celebrating.
I also imagine that, amid all the excitement in the back of his mind, there were reminders regarding safety. As it wasn’t always safe, however; one can’t live in fear.
As Uncle Calvin leaves Evers Pl. for what will be his last time. He tossed one of his sisters in the water hydrant that had been opened for the kids to play in. He walked away laughing. As he made his way to the end of the block, he saw another sibling hanging out on the porch of one of her friends. “See you later Big Head.” he said as he turned the corner to meet up with his crew. Some from his singing group. I’m telling y’all, my Uncle Calvin was Super DOPE! #scholar #activist #artist #BLACKExcellence
The evening went on. As he enjoyed the stops along the night, he was able to see his other Sister that attending Upward Bound (Oakland University), with his girlfriend. Prior to leaving, Uncle Calvin gave his little Sister a hug and back to Royal Oak they headed.
At this juncture, it’s getting late and contrary to the laws. Black people could literally be killed. Why? Because they were BLACK!
The Knock At The Door
As all slept peacefully, the loud knock on the front door disrupted them. Most in the house startled by the knocking. In speaking with family members, it was around 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 29, 1972. Granddad, taking the lead and Grandma on the cusps of his heels, anxiously moved down the stairs to the door. Maybe it was Calvin coming home, and he didn’t have his key, had to have crossed their minds.
As they approached the door, peeking through the long narrow window next to the door two white police officers stood. Hearts in their stomachs, they joined the officers on the porch. At the top of the stairs, the other children sat listening attentively. Back at the door, screams of ‘no’ came from Grandma. As one officer shared, without even trying to display an ounce of empathy, “your Son Calvin has been involved with a fatal shooting. Call the number on the card.” The number on the card was to the morgue.
A night of celebration that should’ve sent Uncle Calvin off to North Carolina AT&T with a bang. Ended by the hands of two white men, that took an oath to protect and serve the people. 23 Bangs shot in the back of an 18-year-old Black man. As much as thingz had changed, they were still the same!
And simply celebrating!! Being Black in Oak Park after dark in 1972.
The title of the newspaper article “Shooting: Legal Lynching? One article written, both officers received no charges- and the case ruled “justifiable homicide” because Uncle Calvin ran.
My Uncle: the Scholar, the Activist, a Brother, a Musician….and most importantly my Grandmother’s ‘Black Son’ would not be leaving for college. As they would be planning his funeral. #enoughisenough
During the current state of race relations, coupled with hearing about the life and death (murder) of my dear Uncle Calvin, and now having a ‘Black Son’ of my own. My only option is to be a part of the solution. As such, I am ‘evoking the revolution’ in spirit and in truth! What does this mean Dinky Rose you may wonder? Let me break it down!
Evoke means to bring or recall to the conscious mind.
"The continuous of Black Lives being taken by white officers & racist white people evokes the harsh realities and struggles of Black People in America."
Revolution is a dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way something works or is organized or in people's ideas about it.
"A Black Revolution is needed to address All ThingZ American."
I further challenge each of you to be intentional about knowing your Family’s history. And be sure to educate every generation. If we don’t, white America will continue to try and miseducate our children as it pertains to ‘All ThingZ’ Black.
As I prepare to carry the Torch of my Uncle Calvin’s work and all the men and women that have paved the way. I will continue to educate my self about the history of my people (everything systemic racist didn’t want Black People to know due to it being too uncomfortable for white folks.) In doing so, ensuring I at every Table needed to positively impact CHANGE for BLACK People in America.
In the spirit of ‘Evoking The Revolution’, what will you do to influence CHANGE for BLACK People in America? Share your comments on this Post.