Monday, February 19, 2018

The Pact Book Club Gathered: A Black History Story

Image may contain: 9 people, including Jamere Eichelberger, people smiling, people standing, tree and outdoor
L to R: Royce Davis (held by father), LeVante Davis, Jr., Clifton Eichelberger, Jr., Jamere Eichelberger, Isaac  Edwards,
Cory Hardy, Elmetra Patterson, facilitator and Rashaad Edwards. (not photographed: Nicholas Shields, Mikel Hannah,
Tyrone Stallings, Brandi  and Michelle Hopkins)

The Pact Book Club was founded in 2006 by this writer and Brandi Hopkins. It ended in 2010 when its members were referred to the Boys and Girls Club as member and/or tutors for the younger children. Most of the members, now young adults, were in attendance on Saturday, February 10, 2018, at the funeral services and repast of Mrs. Betsy Ann Eichelberger, the woman they called ‘Big Mama’. Mrs. Eichelberger was very supportive of these young adults from early childhood until adulthood when they went away to college or to live in other cities for employment.

She was such an inspiration to them that they came back to say goodbye upon her death. While in the Pact Book Club, they selected her to be the guest speaker at their 1st Banquet and Awards Night. The club’s motto was “Reading Opens the Door to the World”. The theme for the banquet was “Unlock the Doors” from which she spoke. It was held May 21, 2007. She encouraged them to continue to read – telling them of how their ancestors had to sneak and read because it was against the law in some places to read or have someone teach them to read. She shared how as a youngster, she did not have many books to read. In school she had to read 2nd handed books, many outdated, which were passed to her Mt. Sinai Church School from the white school but she read and continued to read at 99 years old.

Since it is Black History month, let’s share about another African American woman who inspired The Pact Book Club members. They were required to read the keynote speech made by Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

Most inspirational to the young readers and their parents was when they read Michelle Obama’s speech about values that she and Barrack Obama were taught as youth: “…….that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you're going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them.”

These values were the discussion of many of our weekly reading sessions as we read books by and about African Americans and other inspirational biographies. Most of these young readers were from single parent homes. However, they know that from their readings they can be successful and not use that as an excuse.

Another favorite part of the speech for the young readers, “And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

After catching up with what is going on in these young men’s lives presently, it was exciting to know that they adopted those values and are doing quite well. This writer is grateful to have them as a part of her life and appreciates their love for her and her deceased mother – Mrs. Betsy Ann ’Patti’ Eichelberger.

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90 year old Betsy Ann Eichelberger speaking at The Pact Book Club’s Banquet 2007
DOB October 22, 1918 – DOD February 5, 2018

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Charles Hampton, MS State Conference NAACP President with Betsy Ann Eichelberger

Submitted By: Elmetra Patterson