In this hour, new purposes, shifting perspectives, and fresh takes. At work, at home, and on the streets of Harlem. This episode is hosted by Moth Senior Curatorial Producer, Suzanne Rust. The Moth Radio Hour is produced by The Moth and Jay Allison of Atlantic Public Media.
Hosted by: Suzanne Rust
Frank O'Keefe takes us inside the world of the New York City Sanitation Department.
Julia Bucci can't use her usual academic approach when confronted with a matter of the heart.
Ayisha Irfan finds herself in the awkward role of the "office Muslim."
On the night of Obama's election, Maxie Jones witnesses change on the streets of Harlem.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey, MA listeners. This year we are celebrating our twenty fifth anniversary- that's twenty five years of uncovering what it means to be human understanding, each other, better and building community through true personal stories, in order to ensure that the moth continues to thrive for another twenty five years and beyond were raising twenty five thousand dollars during the month. March. If you can give ten dollars fifteen dollars or even twenty five dollars, we would be so grateful text moth three hundred and thirty five. Fourteen thousand four hundred and forty four visit the moth org to make your donation today and we thank you. from the bottom of our hearts. From prx visit the moth radio, our I'm Suzanne Ross is everything you ve heard that
your parents, teachers and from Oprah, maybe Roger Eyes, but deep down, you know it's true. It's not What happens to us that matters, but how we see it and how we adopt in this episode explore those moments when you learn to look at things in a different light. First up is Franco, Keith, who is the embodiment of New York, tough New York strong? He gave us this insiders peak into his career and personal evolution, in two thousand, seven in where else New York City, their strength, good evening, everyone, my name is frank, o Keefe. I am a proud member. the New York City Department, sanitation You're your friendly neighbourhood garbage man. You know everybody is aware of the fact that the police known as New York's finest, I had fighters unknown is New York's bravest. But not everybody is aware that
sanitation alone as New York strongest and that's a title that we learn because we remove upwards of fifteen thousand tonnes of debris day from this. I worked at New York. Few were founded roomful a grade school children asked them what they like to be here, you might hear someone say: teacher police officer, airplane, plane, plain pilot, no child envisions picking up between they grow up, you know, there's been countless movies and television shows about police work in court rooms and class. Hollywood has yet to have got to the romance of picking up a bag and putting in their back in a truck, you know subsided. I get here My father was a very practical man. He was an immigrant from county carry Ireland. He worked. Isn't Higher life in oppress rooms of
The New York Daily newspapers, his two brothers, were police office to him, benefits of a city job like capturing leprechaun and stealing his pot of gold and he was I was able to my brothers, and I too, take civil sir this exams and we really wanted no part of it. Thirty years ago I married my college sweetheart and I went to work with my father in a newspaper business. There was a substantial amount of drinking going on in those days matter. Of fact, we had a refrigerated was always firstly stocked with cancer, if a beer and lock Roman Schaefer did always live to which Jingle they want. when you're having more than one My wife, but we still always after us and actually after getting over the trauma of turning thirty.
I said well, you know at least you won't be bottom anymore, because now and finally, to all to take these tests A couple years later, I get a phone corneas in my father's voiced at sanitation and just opened up filing for the nice Zahm and is no age requirement really was unable to share his joy. the last thing I want to do for the rest of my life was coming home, everyday smelling, like someone's garbage, and Besides, I was a college graduate. I was gonna do this for living when I was in great school system, Consolata always used to threaten us. if you don't do your homework, you gonna grow up to be a garbage man, but anyway, to keep peace. I decided I would take the test and I put it out of my mind, Unfortunately, my drinking became more and more of an issue and it got to the point where my family was Joe guys my life is in danger, so I decided to grant seek some help
and funny thing was shortly after that happens. I got a letter from sanitation saying that test you took several years before. Will you know Has finally come up and we have a job for you. I still mixed reactions, because now on pushing forty and I'm wondering five be able handle this job physically? At this point, my life plus, I really did not want to take the focus of what My real purpose was at this point in trying to stay sober, but in reality it was a no brainer, because I had to change my location. I was doing most of my boozing at work anyway, So why not I took the job and then I realized TAT. I was getting additional health care for my family and it was a twenty every time and Planning Bennett. an opportunity for advancement. So I said you know what all of a sudden a garbage starting smell like money to me, but I found out that
shortly after I began job to a wedding and nobody of my was getting married and We're renewing old acquaintances and subject came up of what was that we were doing at this point in our lives, and I said that I work for the city and an ice did the conversation to our children's sports to the weather, suddenly dawned on me. I didn't really want these guys to know that I was a garbage man, you know I was a little embarrassed and ashamed of what I was doing, and a kind of filter down to my family. In all my wife and my children, men of my wife,. My wife is a successful business woman. She works and executive search firm and we both sort decided that there would be no. best interested. Let everybody think terms. Don't working in a newspaper business you know, might be better for your career path. I never really took the job seriously. The first day I showed up, they handed us a badge.
Did anybody realised as sanitation work is scary badges? I sat? trying to think to myself. Well, I'll, have the opportunity to pull his badge out. I was then told that the training was going before weeks. I'm thinking it's gonna, take you for we. To teach me how to bend over and pick up a bag and put in the back of a truck, but actually what This is, we operate many many pieces of equipment and most of it no I'm sure have seen or sanitation trucks deprived of our fleet in the streets of New York. You stand in front of one of these trucks. They look like they're about owain and a half in with fear. Sitting inside the driving a truck? It looks like it's eight or nine lanes in with the first time that I had to drive this truck by myself at the end of the shift they need in settling torch, to remove my hands from the steering. I was so tense
one of the first assignments they gave me was called M. L p, I said: what exactly does that mean? Motorized litter patrol, I said that really sounds like dangerous work, said: no, no, no, no! You gotta go out and take care of conditions. I said kind of conditions as a garbage man take care of, but can issues are what we call piles of debris industries of anybody. He does have anything on their black. Did they wanted your router? Then you call your local Roger tell him that you have a condition and respond meal. I also had to change my lifestyle a bit because I was the type of person that wish or is chronically late for wherever I went and I found out that if I was laid on this job, who is going to cost money, I was late one time I got a verbal reprimand from my supervised and he told me when he finished, then. If I was late again,
he was gonna. Bang me I said. Just out of curiosity. Are there any alternative forms of punishment that might be avail break now that the debt was sanity, ease for written complaint, I felt a little foolish, but I was actually more relieved than anything else. What I did find out, who is we're not garbage we sanitation workers as a matter of fact, through or well in fashion. The word garbage has been deleted from our vocabulary. Refugees, litter debris, waste anything, but did ye were because it's an embarrassing, so be careful if you run into any of my colleagues on the street and I liked at her. But you know what I asked I started taking a job as a joke. I mean it was even to the point it
and driving the mechanical sweep, is, if you have ever seen those in the street and I used to take my kids out needs pointed: is fire hydrant up in the Bronx and Tom Seeds Daddy's office over because that's what I had to filling up with water before I went on the street, but that all begin to change around the winter of ninety six, when I was home on the sun the afternoon, and I got a call that there was impending snow storm and they needed or personnel all hands on deck for the snow storm. So I went to my garage, sanitation apart. New York City is the only uniform force on earth. That picks up you garbage, clean, just region also removes snow. So I hope all of you feel blessed by that information. anyway, I was put on nor one of our Snow, according equipment spread spreader with a plough, and I was going up and down the major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx. Visibility was horrendous. Trying to cut a path of traffic return. I made a pass. It was snowing so heavily and look like I had even been there before
Twenty four reaches a snow that day, but by rush hour. The next morning all the main arteries into Manhattan were cleared. The city had never sleeps was open for business. That's winter. We had sixteen consecutively No storms. There were lined up like planes, gettin ready to take off the Kennedy Airport. We work seven days a week, twenty four hours a day trying to keep the city open. We would go into a coffee, shop and people often, and pick up my check. All the certainly would get treated treated like cops and and and if you ever been impressed by the cool efficiency of unasked carpet, crew, you gotta step inside sanitation garage in the middle of a snowstorm during the changing of the shift when all equipment has to be checked and a change of personnel, because we have to do it quickly. It was controlled chaos. In order that we don't lose. The effect of fighting, that's snowstorm stone winter that account
set up and started taken notice of you know what we are very important to the fabric of the city. you know without us. Nobody emerge She vehicles would ever be able to get through people wouldn't be able to get to work. Fortunes would be lost, lives could possibly be lost. No. I started really thinking about this and agenda what this is a pretty new job after all that Saint Patrick stay as a march, the fifth avenue we actually even started getting some positive attention from the public because they really seem to appreciate how he kept a city. float during the winter of ninety six I started getting more involved in the department. going to social events, joining summoned a fraternal organization, sporting events. I would come home now and sit down to dinner table I'd start talking about the job to my wife and kids, They thought that I had gotten taken over by some kind of culture. The hell was that talkative.
my kids don't even know I did for a living. I never talk. We still had to hurl, however, of my wife's busy, here. We still said you know what we're probably still better off. You know it. No one wants to deal with anybody that those this for and then the course came, nine eleven. The heroics of the police, firefighters, without question go down in history. Joe and it was all over. Somebody had to go Anna clean up that area Wall Street was open up within a week awful just went down. Seven days a week. Twenty four hours a day. you we will. We still are don't know what the long term health effects are gonna be to our members of having been spent so much time down here. I mean when there are dirty jobs, growth.
Work to be done with the ones tat the city calls upon. I took my wife down their shortly after to show her what was going on down there and the devastation and I think she really came around herself and started appreciating what was it. I did so now that if we go out socially so many ask what I do show pipe up that my husband works. Fitted upon the sanitation in New York City despoiling, I'd like to really actually thank my higher power, because this Job seem to come along for me at the exact, moment in my life and I'd also like to thank my father being Persistent pain in the ass daddy was in nature. it took this test in as far Just a consulate is concerned. I never really paid much attention to what you told me in guide you.
that key rankling aunt was married, his wife of forty five years now He's retired from the sanitation department? Frank loves, to spend time with his six grandchildren and stay active Frank, has part time jobs, it doesnt docent at Yankee Stadium, and he also serves on New Saint Patrick Stay Parade Committee to see Some photos- Frank, o Keefe on the job, goes em off dot. Org coming up next, a family adjust to a big change.
That's when the moth radio, our continues, the moth radio hours produced by atlantic public media and woods whole Massachusetts and presented by p r ex Lester about what is professional today on linked in important conversations are happening around what it means to be a professional right now, linked members are talking about things like needing more flexibility around where we work. How we work and even taking time away from work to focus on family or mental health, because those things should not stunt career development and growth. Instead, they should enhance it, as we show up on our own terms.
Members are even pudding with most important to them in their job titles. With things like podcast host, Slash activist, Slash mom, I know I'm gonna date, my linked in to say, executive producer, Slash story, director and writer. Slash aunt, Slash, hiker, an avid traveller professional is ours to define and are authentic self is our professional self. So, if your linked, and doesn't reflect who you really are update your job title post, your truth show the world the authentic professional. You
and join the conversations redefining professional, I'm linked in linked in welcome professionals. Them off has brought you by progressive. Have you tried the name your price tool, yet it works just the way it sounds. You tell progressive how much you want to pay for car insurance and they'll show you coverage options that fit your budget. It's easy to start a quote and you'll be able to find a rate that works, for you is just one of the many ways you can save with progressive, get your quote today at progressive dot com and see why four out of five New Otto customers recommend progress progressive casualty, insurance company and affiliates pricing coverage match limited by state law. This is the moth radio, our from Pierre Suzanne Rust and this out our stories of attitude adjustments. What happens when your partner comes to you some very big life. Changing news, Julie
but share this next story at them off teacher institute. national development workshop offered by education programme is Julia, so there she was are five year old daughter, so The sitting across the table from us looking expectantly across. that us her to moms and we're so nervous. we don't know how we're gonna be able to tell her what we ve sat her down to tell her here's. How we got here Fell in love with Alex a lot because she was my opposite. She was really ground did I was up in the clouds She was really smart about people. I learned everything about human nature and psychology from books. My books did not help me one Alex told me one day that she was going to deal with her long buried gender issues and that she was really starting to think about transitioning. I didn't take this news. Well, we had two young kids. We were really happen.
family. We were like the neighbourhood gay leave it to be her family, and I just love that She is, I decided I wasn't a Phd programme at the time, so I decided to use my best knowledge of everything. to talk Alex out of her feelings into educated So we would have these conversations and they would go like this she'd say I'm suffering. I feel like I really need to change my body to match my mind and I'd say your suffering because you have an insufficient understanding of the mind body problem and also you're, buying into binary oppositions, which I recently found out are the foundational problem evolve Western, culture and now you're, just making it worse. so then she'd say or she d I I can't go on any longer like this and I'd say? Yes,
can generous a performance it socially constructed. Here's an article two red and then Alex would stop talking for a while. She was waiting My friends didn't know what my problem was. They said everybody calls her, Sir, the grocery store anyway. What would be so different and I said it's just I don't buy into it. It's Phyllis topically, I don't buy into it. I dont understand it. one day Alex said, finally said to me: I mean to do this? I need to transition from female Tamil and love you and I want you to come with me. Even if you don't stand it. I said: ok, I'm coming along, but there's gonna be a big boy. We're gonna have a hard time telling our daughter Sophie she's not going your stand, it Sophie at five years old was a major power to contend with. She was brilliant shoes smarter than the two of us combined. Her favorite word at the time
Actually and she was like putting professor from another planet doing during our research study on us Unfortunately, she shared her findings, often, likes, and I being parents as a huge deal to us and we ve- However, our cells, we were silly I'm trying to be these in a great parents and we carefully curated her life so that it was politically correct and then it was beautiful. Her life was made sickly, one big left wing, pottery, barn, kids, catalogue and one day we would just two things. One day we did something especially silly and she looked up from her book and remarked, I hope when you do don't actually know what you're doing So a scary sir
called Momo. She called Alex her Momo. They had a really special bond and Alex was terrified of anything hurting. That bond but Alex was the one who really knew how to talk to Sophie the best service. Came time too, to have the talk. Alex was the one who did the talking, so she said Sophy I have some to tell you. I have always felt more like a day, then like a mom more And so I M so Taking some medicine and you're gonna see some changes you're going start seeing my shoulders are going to start getting bigger more like a dad. I'm I'm gonna start growing a beard and my voice is gonna get lower over time. We're like a dad. Tears started to come out from behind the little round glasses and share this beautiful around. a sort years can it came at the sides and Alex went and hunger
and I said- oh If you know this is hard to understand and she said ACT, Billy he'd Know- you understand everybody. Get to be, who they are. Everybody gets to do that. It's just and the tears kept coming with and we waited it's just your voice. I don't want your voice to change. I love that voice and in tat moment I realized my problem wasn't philosophical. There was so much about Alex that I didn't want to change. I love that voice too, and. I also remember that I had to try to act like the parent in this situation, so I said, will hear it won't sophie here's the thing about voices, your voice stays with you, your whole life no matter what changes you go through so well off.
be able to hear Mama's voice underneath the new voice, and we can listen for together and the tears dried and that's what we did the next morning. So if you want sliding with some neighbours and at the top of the hill, She- everybody that her mama. Taking medicine to be more like a dad If anyone had any questions, she was actually willing to answer them and there was eighteen years ago and is when I first learned something for real that I'm still trying to learn every day and that What I learned that it is not necessary or even possible to understand fully the people that I love, but that it is possible, and it is absolutely necessary to fully loved them thanks. You
Bucci is a Boston base. Writer and teacher. Her current projects included screenplay based on the story of Alex's transition as well. The tv pilot about an androgynous trans dj in the early days of disco. and in case you are wondering about Sophie. Yes, she is the smartest young woman in the room and is currently a law student, I asked Julia about her initial resistance to Alex's news and how she- What about it? Now? She said that when she looks back she's is how much her fear was getting the way and holding Alex back from becoming his shoe or self. She adds that life is precious and she wishes You could go back in time for redo and support Alex in his transition without hesitation, fear or doubt I also ass Julia. What Sheen Alex would like people know about men and women who are transitioning. People were a trend.
Actually want to talk about their journeys, go ahead and ask questions as long as the questions are appropriate. Coming from a place of sincerity and goodwill, we had so many good friends who assumed that talking about Alex's transition would offend us questions like what's had been like, or how are you doing or what would you? like me to know our good places to start to see photos of Julia Alex and their daughters, Sofia and Pierre go to them off dot. Org in the workplace. we can learn a lot about ourselves and our colleagues and when uncombed situations arise. We can learn even more and speaking out about those situations, isn't always easy actually when you're in a minority group in the office. This next story, I share your phone came to US collaboration with the Muslim writers Workshop and she told him of the canoe
He showcase at the Bell House in Brooklyn and just to note the obscure the name of ashes colleague for privacy, is I live with them all. I work for an elected official here. Park city and my days, a perfect planned between house of cards and parks and recreation. We, equally trying to take over the world and fight the New York City rat problem, really really interesting day days in government and my coworkers about fifty five of us, mostly for organizers and activists and folks who J only want to use government as a force for good Most of us are also staunch anti institutionalists, who suddenly found ourselves inside the very institution we ate, so that something to us. I was brought in as a senior adviser on racial justice issues, lots of them in Europe.
And I also happen to be the cool office lefty Muslim. What are they mean. I wear really colorful who jobs? My outfits are super coordinated. I swear on occasion. It's great it's great I think, having me around, makes my co workers feel a little bit less racist about themselves. So there is that I also seem to have adopted the profile of the office Muslim. So any time, there's anything where our office has to prove that their diverse and inclusive, I am the first person they send along the way and the way I've tried to combat this. This. Pressure of representing over one point. One billion people across the world is every time there is a job opening, I'm bringing it bugs in.
I'm bringing other Muslims to the table. I'm really working hard to transform this rooms. I man the tables I have access to, and so that's been great. I've brought in for other people and Michael workers we ve created a really warm positive, welcoming culture most days and so one of my favorite coworkers, is this woman named and if you look at As on the surface, we really couldn't be more different. She is in her fifties. She grew up. Jewish is now a practising Buddhist, I'm twenty nine, I'm muslim, but we, both of us are staunch, just haters of capitalism and militarism, so we bond over that all the time. The better histories and the Anti WAR movement for her. It was Vietnam and for me it was the entire awkward movement. When you know I was coming of age So one day, a few months ago, I found myself in her office, as I often am, leaning against her door, just catching up
and she brings up the MIKE Pence article that had just come out in the new Yorker about how might pants doesn't dine alone with women of the woman who aren't his wife. Now I don't agree with my pants on just about anything on the face of this earth, but this peace around interaction. the people of the opposite sex. I grew up in Brooklyn York around a lot of really conservative Muslims around a lot of practising jewish folks. So this peace resonates and I say actually like in terms of dining on with people of the opposite sex. A lot of the folks. I grew up around that I've been in school, where they abide by really similar principles and It's not. You know it's not seen as something that's inherently evil or like women are dirty or men are dirty. This is just the way people choose to practise their faith. And so then I asked I actually go on and I'm sorry I say actually know artifacts you don't even shake hands and professional SEC settings with the opposite sex and that's their way of practising their faith,
and for the longest time, my mom when she was under the workforce, she did it and by extra, when I was like twenty two years old. I did neither until you know like my own views on this evolved personally, and so she stops and she turns- and she looks at me and she says anyone who doesn't shake hands with the opposite sex. Never ever, belongs in a managerial position, and I say what, if I told you I And shake hands with man ray. I didn't use to what, if I told you to like starting today, I'm not gonna. Do it anymore and she looks at me and she says no but you're different. Ok, I am different than the one point, one billion other Muslims out there, let's think about like just the mathematical possibility of that being the case. but what they are also tells me, as you have I've been around very many Muslims, because this phrase I've heard consistently in my
a lot of my interactions with with non Muslims, and so I stop and I pause, and I think how do I even and begin to unpack the statement of your differ and what that means and what pressure that puts on me- and I am thinking of a response when another coworker walks in and the conversation just stops right there, and I leave the office that day and I started thinking, and I started thinking about how I had been showing up as like a muslim American in this office space and had I been really centering my own faith in the interactions I've been having over the course of three years with my car hers- and I realise that one of the daily pillars of Muslim are muslims- is that you pray five times a day, and you take a few minutes. You, you remember, guiding get connected
and grounded and the way I've been doing. This really is an important pillar of my own faith. Was I'd been sneaking off into the corner bathroom quickly, wash my hands and my face afraid. Some one would walk in on me: I'd be ripping off a sheet of paper Tal running into the corner, closet that had it been cleaned in twenty years and praying within a span of two minutes, afraid that someone would catch me and so I had a moment where I realize I haven't been doing my part and if I was performing all these prayers by myself in a corner, closet all of these people that I had brought in with the very intention of changing the culture and making these spaces more welcoming. I was completely failing, and so I went back to my chief of staff two days later and she started talking about a room there. An empty room that we were converting into a maternity space for a lot of my co workers who recently given birth, birth, Anita lactation,
space- and I turned her nose like I just I don't know if you know, but for the last three years I've been praying and that dirty back cause it over there, and these four other people have brought in are actually doing the exact same thing. Can we talk about turning the space into a meditation space? It's both the lactation space, but also we can pray and a space that's worth your guide and worthy of worship and she looks at me and you could tell she had never thought of this before and she whips out the the four plans for this new space and we started thinking through where we things going replaced. And so I go home that night and the next day I have picked out my favorite prayer run that I've been using to pray at home and it's beautiful. It's royal blew it. As golden embroidery, their minutes That's all over. I brought it into the office and a few weeks later, as it came time for prayer was the Usher prayer, which is the evening prayer. I gathered my for other color
earth and instead of putting the prayer ragout horizontally, as we usually do for one person we laid it out instead of Basically, we waited at horizontally, so could get more people and the four of us pray together. these days I share your phone is leading into the digital, nomad life and splitting her time between New York and San Francisco. She works european, these public policy team leading their legislative work across much of the West Coast. When I first started them off, I heard, You should tell restoring a small rehearsal room what she had to say really struck me and had stayed with me on a very personal level open minded and empathetic as I like to think that I was her story made me realize that actually I had some things that I needed to rethink and reflect on, and I did that's the power of moth stories they make. You pause reflect
when your mind, maybe even changed your mind? I The story raises so many important issues, so I want to hear more from her. We're relationship with your friend in the office is very interesting. I think that many of us have friends who we assume run the same page with us, because our politics align, but then we talk, we can actually discover that there can be huge differences of opinion and often painfully different ones. I really want to know how did you feel when she made that comment to you? I think, just in shocked.
for me. It was such a grows generalization of an entire sub community arm. I think very united worked in this office for years, my friend and I hadda. What I assumed was a really good relationship, the aligned on so many of our progressive politics, and it takes me back to just knowing that, even if someone's on the right side, like you have you need to take your time to get to know them better and dig into those opinions and oftentimes, though those is completely catch. You referred, we need folks were actually actively thinking through how their perpetuating harm and large, within small on I think he'll, particularly as a muslim american woman, to grow up right out in the days after nine eleven came of age. In those days we assumed being anti
or was it right? I think that's what it was for me. It's like ok, your entire warrior and time military, but how can we perpetuate those harms and the smaller data day? Interruptions has become okay to not be explicitly astronomer, phobic or racist or sexist bread. A really brought out for me how the smaller ways in which we propose wait. Those isms that we claim to want to disrupt what happened to that friendship and end. She is someone I look up to in various ways for her involvement in larger things in older things, and there are still a lot of work to be done. I think, if I saw on the street in the excited, had begun to see her but ass. She someone
I would have allowed to get extremely close, are really bring all my walls gown with that's probably, I know, you're in a new job now, and I wonder you still rolling it is the, as you quote, on conclusion of the cool lefty muslim funds, that what does that mean for you now you yeah, I would say it's been really really interesting. I am a few years out from that role and in a new role, I'm still one a very, very few misfortunes. I put a lot less pressure on myself. I think the world itself can be incredibly harmful in the ways in which it expects merge. My spoke to show up constantly for themselves, for others to constantly be on guard to. How do we make this world a better place? I think I've gotten better at kind.
Dispersing that responsibility to those around me. I ship is everyone's work on showing autonomous lenses, everyone's work, and sometimes the most we can do- is just to be really true to our selves and make sure were looking out for ourselves and our own mental health, That was, I share fun to see a photo by at the moment the moth dot org coming up next since my great night in Harlem. That's when
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Before clicking on the sales apt to send a quote to a customer. How many tabs you have open just one. Oh, do makes things simple: go to. Oh, do dot com, slash, moth to start a free trial, that's o d, o o dot com, slash moth,. You listen to the moth radio, our from Pierre exe Suzanne Rust and in this area so we're sharing stories about attitude adjustments. Our final story takes place on the streets of Harlem Epic Night back on November. Fourth, two thousand eight Appropriately Maxie Jones told the story on a moth mainstay, Aaron Davis, home Harlem redoubled N Y, see is a media partner of the monk. Here's Maxie, my father, Actually Joan Senior came the Harlem in uniting fifties from Prenticed, Mississippi.
And I remember one time when you took me down here for visit. We were driving down main street and prentice, and up ahead we saw the traffic light to coup clubs. Clan we had enough flyers. Two drivers they were handed applies only to the white drivers. They were in full KKK God they had the hoods gowns everything. As we drew closer to them, the better you could see their roles and around and of little holes in the hoods. I had only seen them on tv prior to that. It's a lot different in person.
They gave a fire to the driver in front of us said he go man, white power, then they looked at us and I was scared because I was wondering what they were going to say to us. But I didn't say anything they just walked right. Past went to the car behind us. He said: hey go Sir White Power and ass. We drove off ass my father's dead. How can they do tat in broad daylight just like that right in front of us. my father said: Maxie just sit still and keep quiet and I felt tat he should be angry like I was angry, but for him it was just norm. My father never talked about Politics to me- and I don't even know if he ever voted the only ever said me about. Politics was.
She, because that's how he started off everything. She said she it don't matter. Who is the president new? Thank God you're not first no way, and I understood why he felt that way, because he drew up in the world where, in politics back folks didn't matter. When I was a kid mama, these Tommy Maxie. You could be anything you want to be. She says shoe. You could be the President of United States if you want to, and I never really believe it thought that, where she was really saying was you could try to beat a president. and your lan somewhere? When I was about ten years old. I remember when Nixon beat Mcgovern in the presidential election by were seen by just a few votes and next day my social studies
each came in and she said I can't believe he one. I just can't believe it more people have come out of. He wouldn't have won that election, and it was from her that I learned that people don't show up to vote just to put someone into office. You show up to vote also to keep somebody out. The year I turned eighteen does happen, a beat him an election year and I voted that year because I was excited even though my Canada didn't we and ever since then I've never miss an opportunity in two thousand seven, my father passed away and ran about their time. I started here and about this senator from Illinois. Neighbor Barack Obama, who do his hat and a ring for the president for the presidency now my first thought was: I was wonder situations where an
I'm not gonna win, but at least we get people used to the idea of a black man being present. No know my father would say he would go she. You and I see no black president in your lifetime. And base are now, I thought no way this guy's gonna win. On election day. Two thousand. I had to be to work at eight o clock that morning- and I heard the poles opened up at six o clock, so I got up early saw could be the first one down near. It was a Gladys Hampton houses right, don't Saint Nicholas Avenue. so I got up and I went there and I was shocked to find the place was crowded. Already. People had been lined up from early to evolve and is not any other election where you just stand and, unlike weighting of all people, were celebrating,
everybody was talking like they knew each other. One guy had a kid with them. He was like. I brought my kids for this historic moment. and those of other lady who said this is one time I made sure, taken out to vote, but for me it was just build The reason I was voting was to make sure that, if Barack Obama Dean Win, it wasn't gonna, be because at involve took me our fifteen minutes, and then I was on my way to work, and I call my friend Cheryl, because it was her birthday
and when I called issues have Maxie guess what I just had, the best birthday guest ever would have their says. I just voted for black mare for presidency on my birthday, passive or good there. When it comes to foreign assets, at least she got to vote for him, then I went to work and when I was at work on coworkers we're talking about making sure that out of all and people were actually asking for time off, so that they could make sure that they had time to vote before they go, go on home and everywhere at her people are talking about voting and after wireless actually thought to feel some hope. I said, maybe this guy Obama could win this election. So when I got home that even in the first thing I did turn on my tv and I look, announcing hoboes shoe
do it as women, so I stay outta my set after that, now. Normally, whenever a vote, I just wait till the next morning to find out what the results are. But this time I wanted to know right away so call my friend my and I said Martin. When do we find out who won the election? He laughed amiss to eleven o clock, so I said all right. I was sitting and watching and then those off to sleep. and I woke up the chance of yes, we can yes We are looking at the tv and new challenges huge crowd in Washington DC. Then they showed this huge crowd in Chicago Illinois and then they showed this huge crowd and hollow,
Like them, I see no crowd in Harlem where's that crowd now two doors from my apartment. There was a Barrack Obama campaign, office so I said: well, maybe they are out there. So I d the grass go outside see. Now. By this time I had on a pair of sweat, there are only where to bear figured no one's gonna notice. when I got outside there was nobody there, so so! Well, nobody here, maybe you're. On a hundred twenty fifty, when I got two hundred twenty fifty two looked Wes, I saw nothing now: look EAST Timor, seventh, avenue and authority bright lights and a huge crowd. So I said I wonder if that's a crowd on tv, so I went over to see and as our approach Seventh avenue there was this
huge stage set up and celebrities we're on a stage talking to the crown and they had a crouching. Thing, yes, we can. Yes, we can and when I got there, I saw this huge jumbotron set up and it was shown up to the minute coverage of the UN, and every time it showed Barrack winning in another state, the crowd cheered. Yes, we can. Yes, we can police were trying to keep the traffic moving on hundred twenty fifth street, but it was almost impossible because people were jumping out of the car screaming Obama. I saw one of my neighbors LISA and I went over to see how she just started crying she. She. I can't believe this. I can't believe believe it a what she's a black that is about to be president of the United States. and the moment she said that the crowd just erupted.
And I turned around to see what was going on and a jumbo Try said Barack Obama, elective forty. Fourth, president of the United States, in writing. I told us danger just heard me say we did it, we did it, we did it. And then next thing you know another strained to hug me and we would jumbled up now go we did it, we did it, we did it and then suddenly I thought we do.
I wonder what my father would think about this, and at that moment a tear start rolling down my face had to step aside outside of the crown, and I said: well there, I'm sorry it didn't happen in your lifetime, but thank goodness is happening in my. Just in my cell phone ring- and it was my my friend kelly- she said maxie- where you I said, I'm one hundred twenty first, come on, let's have a drink and she came and made me she's. Ok, where we go in, and I said Let's go to Lennox Lounge restarted, walk into the Linux lounge we passed by the Linux Avenue Subway station people were coming up in droves, off the subway or two hundred twenty fifth tree, and they were just hugging people, everybody which has hugging each other. I must have about fifty more strangers.
we gotta Linux loud and as soon as I stepped into door. A man push me and slammed the door behind me said: that's it wreck a passing. The place was packed, it had young people, all people, black people, white people, rich and poor. Everybody was in it just celebrated. Having a great time. People were dressed up in form aware. And I had on my pajamas friends.
and all of a sudden, a hush came over. The whole room window bomber came out to make his accepted speech, and even though our listening to the speech, I was looking around the room and everybody was just captivated hanging onto his every word and then suddenly he said, change has come the whole room erupt it again and then, when all the celebration was over, I stepped back out onto Lennox Avenue and people were still all industries cars a blow on the whole and trying to get through. I turn and I saw a Dixie Land ban coming toward me, so I started work in home across on twenty February the sun, was coming up a crew dismantling the stage taken out on the jumbotron. I stepped into a bodega picked up the newspaper tucked under my arm and when our home,
When I got home, I thought I had left my door unlocked the tv still along the lights were alone, and I sat down- and I say this really just happen Is a black man really, president of the United States, was that. See land ban, took the news, paper and want to set it down on a coffee table and read the headline for the very first time- and it said change has come say. Yes, es thank you that was Maxie Jones, Maxie, discovered storytelling and twenty fourteen after hearing them off on the radio
who is name in the hat, at a story slamming Detroit and since then told more than one hundred stories on stages across the country. He lives in gross point was Michigan for helps young people from Detroit Fine Summer jobs MAX his favorite moment from that night was all alone then hugging going on Harlem. He thinks he must have hugged over fifty strangers and he set the because his dad never share his views. He make sure to talk about politics with his sons. He said if they ask him a question about something on the news he tries to give them the most comprehensive response that he can think of the safer as a Maxie, with his two sons go to the mouth dogma that sit for this episode. Hope you'll, join us
its time and that's the story from the monk he's episode of the walls where you our, which produced by me, Jane, Alison Catherine Burns and Suzanne Rust, who also hosted the our goal, produce Her is Vicki Marek associate producer, Emily Couch the story These were directed by Catherine Burns. Jody power when MEG bowls additional education programme poaching by Lauren, Gonzales and Julian gold on the rest, most leadership team include Sarah Haber men. Sarah US engineers, Jennifer Hickson, Kate, tellers for Birmingham, Marina, a Brandon Grant NGO Glade, ASCII, Sarah Jane Johnson and all they cause more stories: remembered and affirmed by the storytellers. Our theme, music, is by the drift
other music. In this hour, from blue dot sessions, Michael Hedges, homage Many and the other main shall signing an medicinal Martin. We receive funding from the national endowment for the arts, the moth radio hours produced by atlantic public Media Woods whole Massachusetts and presented by Pierre. For more about our podcast for information on patroness, your own story and everything else go to our website them. Dot. Org.
Transcript generated on 2022-03-15.