Here Comes Trouble
already, Senators McNamara and—”
    “— Hart!” I jumped in as if I were on a quiz show.
    “You know your senators. Very good! And promising,” he added with a wink to the officer.
    “We’ve got his mother,” a voice squawked across the police radio the cop was holding. “Stay there. She’s coming.”
    “Well, it seems everything worked out OK,” proclaimed the senator from New York. “Good luck, young man—and never lose sight of your mother!”
    And with that he was gone, before I even had a chance to thank him or wish him well or recite for him my favorite passages from his brother’s Inaugural Address.
    Within minutes my mother and sisters and cousin arrived, and after a stern look and a word or two, we were off to sit in the Senate gallery and listen to ninety-eight men and two women debate the passage of a new law that would pay for the doctor bills of every single senior citizen, a radical idea to be sure. They called it “Medicare,” and the idea seemed to sit well with the doctor’s daughter in the gallery. Most senators also seemed to like the bill, though there were some who said it was the first step toward something called “socialism.” My sisters and I had no idea what that was; we just knew it was a bad word.
    “This law will also help poor people,” our mother added, and although that wasn’t us, by the tenets of the Church it was considered a good thing, even if it did conflict with the principles of Mom’s Republican Party. The bill passed, and one senator proclaimed that the elderly would never have to worry again about going broke because of medical bills.
    When we went back a few days later to sit in the House gallery, a new bill was up for discussion: the Voting Rights Act of 1965. From watching the evening news and being taught to read the daily newspaper, I knew that “colored people” were being unfairly treated, even killed. A few months earlier, in March 1965, a white housewife from Detroit, Viola Liuzzo, upset at what she had been seeing on the television regarding the savage treatment of black people, made an impromptu decision to head down to Selma, Alabama, to march with the Rev. Martin Luther King. I knew King to be the Negro man in charge of the civil rights movement, and in the town where I lived his name was rarely mentioned—and when it was, it usually had other words attached to it, none pleasant.
    Mrs. Liuzzo, a mother of five children, was brutally murdered by the Ku Klux Klan while volunteering as one of the drivers who ferried demonstrators back and forth to Selma. It was a shock to most of Michigan, and when I heard it being discussed by Jesse the barber, he informed those who were getting their hair cut that day that she was found with “some nigga boy” in the car—a married woman up to no good and “sticking her puss in where it don’t belong!” Jesse’s Barber Shop was the place you went for enlightenment in Davison, and the place was always full. Jesse was a short man with a short haircut, and there was always a pair of scissors or a long razor in his hand. This was problematic, as he wore thick-lensed glasses, the kind the legally blind wore, and it frightened me when I sat in his chair as he held court, the sharp instruments being used to make various punctuation points in the air.
    For many nights after Mrs. Liuzzo’s murder I could not sleep, and when I did, I had dreams that it was my mother found dead in the car along the road in Alabama. I told my parents of this, and they suggested I give the news-watching a break, but I continued to tune in to Walter Cronkite each night.
    It was confusing for me and my sisters, sitting in the House gallery, listening to men talking about how “it isn’t the federal government’s business” who gets to vote.
    “Why don’t they want people to vote?” I asked my mother.
    “Some people don’t want some people to vote,” she said, trying to protect me from the fact that even United States

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