February , 2019

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It’s been a long journey…and I humbly acknowledge: I never could have made it without God and His blessings

By Juanita Bratcher

Author, Editor & Publisher, CopyLine Magazine

I’ve been a Journalist/News reporter/Author/Publisher/Song Writer/Poet now for almost 38 years. It’s been a long journey and indeed an exciting and challenging one. But through it all, I’ve always counted my blessings, and believe me I know exactly where my blessings have come from; because with God all things are possible.

So today, September 23, on my umpteenth birthday, I can’t help but praise God and give Him the glory for keeping me. He has truly blessed me a thousand-fold. I never could have made it in this world without the Lord. And I so humbly acknowledge that fact.

You see, at a very young age, death stared me straight in the eyes three times, but God had a plan for me and I overcome each one of them – all three…but of course it was not my doing. That was the interception of a powerful being – God. I don’t know the reason why I survived all three times, but by the grace of God, I’m still here. And I thank Him every day for keeping me.

In my unreleased autobiography that I’m now in the process of writing, I talk about those escapes with death: “I’ve faced death some three times: When I was six weeks old, I contracted the whooping cough. My mother thought she would lose me. At times she stayed up all night blowing breath back into my body. That’s the way she described it to me when I was old enough to understand the ways of the world.

“When I was three years old, our house caught fire. Everyone got out safely except me. My mother Tommie Sean Pickens was at work but my aunt Annie McClain, her sister, was babysitting her three children. When my aunt looked around to assess the situation, she discovered that I was not standing there alongside my two sisters. My brother had not yet been born. She went back into the house looking for me. Although she got me out of the house, safely, she was marked for the rest of her life. She was badly burned.

“In my third episode with death, I was an anxious small kid running across a main street with my two big sisters to get to an ice cream parlor to purchase an ice cream cone. I fell in the pathway of a car. Luckily for me, behind the wheels of the car was a conscientious driver. He hit the brakes fast enough to spare me my life. Of course, I felt all along that God was in the plan. Praise the Lord! It was a close encounter that I’ll never forget.

“After facing death three times, I figured there had to be a reason why I survived. As of yet, I haven’t been able to quite figure it out. But I do know that God wanted me here, that during those life threatening times my mission here on earth was not finished.

“One’s life must have meaning and purpose. And, I’ve tried my utmost to make sure that they both play an integral role in my life.

“I think about my late mother, Tommie Sean Forte (she remarried), who taught her four children from the very beginning who they were, and instilled in them self esteem at a very young age. ‘No one, absolutely no one is better than you; and you’re no better than anyone else’ she would always say to us, meaning don’t look down on others. ‘Always look everyone straight in the eyes and always stand tall for what you believe in.’ She also taught us love and respect for our fellowman – that that was the Christian way – and to always judge a man by the content of his character and not by his racial origin. And she practiced what she preached throughout her lifetime.

“My sister Eula was a conscientious doer. She participated in most of the sit-ins and boycotts of stores in our hometown, due to their discriminatory practices. I am just as proud of my two other siblings, Bertha and Tommy. They worked tirelessly to bring about change in a southern city where Blacks feared the Ku Klux Klan about as much as kids feared the imaginary figure, “bogey-man.”

“My father died when I was very young. Mom told me about him because when he died I was too young to understand anything about life. I was only three years old. He was an auto mechanic. His job was also the cause of his death. When he was repairing a car the jack collapsed and the car crushed him.

“Life has always been, and still is, a challenge. I never saw it as a “bowl of cherries,” so to speak. Undoubtedly the world we live in will be faced with many more challenges – some old, some new. Hopefully, this book of poems, in regards to perceptions and reflections of years past – and current – will shed light on this not-so-perfect world we live in; the way it was, the way it is, and the way it should be. Because the more things change, the more they remain the same.

“Today, many of our young people are suffering; not only from the vestiges of racism, but from national and worldly menus, if you will, of unemployment, mis-education, infant mortality, violence, drugs, hunger, homelessness, depression and oppression.

“I am concerned about our children, our future generations. The stark reality of children killing children, babies having babies, and many of our young people being hauled off to prisons to spend most, if not all of their lifetime behind prison bars and walls, should be of great concern to all of us.

“I am saddened over the number of young Black males that are bottled up within the criminal justice system across the nation, many of whom are talented young men with much to offer the world, but took a wrong turn in life.

“I am appalled over some of our leadership, those leaders who roam the halls of Congress and State Houses, who fail to bring home the bacon, or live up to the moral mandate set forth by the people who elected and sent them to public office. I’m also fed-up and frustrated with many of our shameless organizations that have their hands stretched out widely for what they can get, with no trickle-down effect to those who need it.

“On a daily basis, we are confronted with many horror stories – terrorism riding roughshod through our streets, through our neighborhoods, mostly by a handful of out-of-control thugs who have a total disregard for life, people or the law. They don’t respect themselves and they have no respect for other people.

“There are far too many guns out on the streets in our cities, many in the hands of young people, who sometimes pull the trigger without even thinking about the devastating repercussions that will follow. Life is precious and must be treated as such. It must be respected, preserved and protected.

“Violence is an incurable cancer. It can be so overwhelming, causing tremendous pain and suffering to many. Crime and violence must be tackled head-on by every law enforcement agency across this country. And every resident and citizen of this country must be at the forefront of the battlefield with them. We must be in partnership with their efforts. But we must also demand that justice is meted out honorably and fairly! Nothing more, nothing less!”

These are all quotes from my book, “A Journey With God – My Autobiography”.

Many have called me “walking history,” not so much for what I’ve done in my life and career but that I had the opportunity to cover many of the history makers as a journalist/news reporter.

Last night, on the heels of my birthday, I found myself reflecting on my life and career. And I thought, “God has smiled on me; He has been good to me.” I was so overwhelmed spiritually. Just to take a walk down memory lane was a spiritual enrichment for me. I was feeling emotional and yes, indeed grateful. Oh, what a joyous feeling. With God all things are possible. And if mom hadn’t been the woman she was; I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.

I thank God that mom had the foresight to decipher good from bad. She was a Christian and lived life the Christian way. She was a missionary and Mother of the Church for years (even at death) at New Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia. God was first in her life – second to none – and she always showed love for her family and others. She’d say, “We’re all God’s children.” She helped many and always visited the sick (those she knew and church members).

At times, we must pause, stop and think not just about ourselves but about others. There are so many people suffering in the world today because of a terrible economy – they’ve lost their jobs, their homes and some are in poor health. Yet, there are those in public office that conflict pain on the unfortunate rather than lend a helping hand.

So on my umpteenth birthday, I give honor to God. He is my Co-pilot and the Captain of my ship (life). God has truly been good to me – first and foremost for giving me one of the best mothers in the world. She taught me right from wrong through my upbringing in the church, respect for my fellowman and a home filled with comfort and love.

Juanita Bratcher is an Award-Winning Journalist, the Publisher of www.copylinemagazine.com and the author of several books, songwriter and poet. She has been a Journalist for more than 37 years covering politics, education and a wide-range of other topics.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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