In order to
get a more fully shaded picture of who I am, it is important to get a
stronger sense of the woman whose thighs I came through. A mother of
seven, I was the fifth to come through my mother, Mosea Lee Barnes.
My mother was born on
December 12, 1912. I always found her birthdate interesting, because of
Mom was born and raised on
a farm in the Magnolia/McComb area of Mississippi. She was raised by her
mother and father, Lillian and Flowers Osby, and was eldest of twelve
There was that twelve
Though she always valued
education, being the oldest child, she had to quit school in the eighth
grade to help on the farm. Two very important lessons came to her from her
humble beginnings: one was to honor the earth and employ resourcefulness
in having her needs met. And the second was the importance of an
Without consciously being
aware of it, her early lessons would spill over to me as a child over and
over again. In Oroville, California, my hometown of busy bodies, crickets,
rednecks and a Black community that indeed was a village that raised its
own, I would witness her resourcefulness as a matter of fact. She always
grew a garden that was sure to sprout corn, tomatoes, greens, squash,
black-eyed peas and even watermelon. She also raised chickens from
“biddies” that she would not hesitate to wring the necks of when the
time came to savor them as part of our Sunday dinner.
She also baked pastries and
cooked meals from scratch. She canned our garden delights for the winter
and sewed many of our clothes.
A self-starter, my mother
decided to build her own home with the help of her brother and community
folk. Our home at 3330
Fallbrook Avenue was built by the community of Oroville, California.
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