Intensely personal reflection on The Waco Horror by Jesse Washington causes me to once again, grapple with grief from across the span of family generations.

My father (John III) was born in Waco in 1947. My great grandfather (John I) was lynched in Palestine, TX., on account of a false allegation by a Caucasian woman who claimed that my great-grandfather made “a pass” at the young woman, as she sat upon the porch transfixed, watching my great-grandfather on his daily walk home.

When the word got around Palestine of my great-grandfather’s alleged transgression, he came up missing…..never made it home to his wife.

My great-grandmother (Alberta Philips) worried for several days until eventually, her husband’s body was found hanging from a tree in the back woods of Palestine, Texas. My great-grandfather (John I) had been lynched by a small town Palestine mob.

When the news of this was reported to my great-grandmother, her black hair turned milk white from the shock of her husband’s murder. The White woman later recanted of her lie against my great-grandfather and made an apology to my Big Momma. John T. Smith, I was 22 when he was lynched in the back woods of Palestine, Texas.

It is said, that my BIg Momma, Christ-follower that she was, forgave the woman.

Many years later, after I had come into the world, I vaguely remember at age 3 (….or perhaps 4) two things about my Big Momma: (1) before bedtime, I kneeling beside her on bended knees as she taught me “the Lord’s Prayer” and (2) her, fully crowned, head of milk-white hair.

postscript: As I published this particular LNJ ONLY SON blog commentary, I had not yet completed the entire reading and slide show of Mr. Washington’s The Waco Horror.

I can’t be entirely certain that I want or even need to.

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