I peek through the curtains looking at all the different faces that I will soon meet. The sun is peeking through the clouds that fill the sky and I’m just about to go on stage to perform my scene. With this being my first time acting, my heart is beating fast. While my eyes scan the room once more, I finally see her. I see the woman whom I’ve just had tea and biscuits with a few days ago. I see the woman who laughed about her journeys at Fisk University during World War II. I see the woman who smiled while reminiscing about being an independent young woman who took the train back and forth between Pennsylvania and Tennessee. My mind is finally at ease while on stage, because Vivian Freeman’s confident spirit resides within me and I know she is looking forward to the young lady who is about to portray her. Raise the curtains… it’s show time!
I grew up in the small knit community of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. My family had just moved from the Pacific Northwest and the thought of moving to another region in the United States was frightening to me. I would have to adapt to a new culture, a new community, and the mindset of the people. My family was fortunate enough to move to a community that would be the perfect place for me to make everlasting friendships and hold fond memories of childhood. When I was in second grade I was asked to participate in a community play for individuals who contributed to Huntingdon Valley. This was how I met Vivian Freeman; the woman who helped shape who I was back then and who contributes to my personal development today.
Vivian Freeman has lived most of her life in Huntingdon Valley. Not only was she one of two Black-Americans to graduate from Lower Moreland High School, she was also valedictorian of her class. She would eventually continue her education at Fisk University earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching. She told me riveting tales of riding the train as an eighteen-year-old girl alone in a world full of confusion and fighting as World War II pressed on in her undergraduate years at Fisk University.
While the world was surrounded by the uncertainty of the future,Ms. Freeman would start her day by wearing her lovely hat and gloves and walk onto the platform of tomorrow as if the other day was just a fleeting moment that pushed her towards her goals. Her courageous spirit has taught me to believe in myself and go beyond the conventional way of life and look for a path that is more noteworthy, vibrant, and fresh. Although uncertainty looms over most of us, Ms. Freeman has encouraged me to live in the moment.
Photographs of Ms. Vivian Freeman Fisk class of 1946, Wisdom Way future Fisk Scholar