Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Senior Center Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday

Above: In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday today, Diana Redecker reads an original poem at the Senior Center downtown.

Tears rolled after Diana Redecker read her original poem, "Sally and Tom," at the Senior Center today, written in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s actual birthday is today, and was celebrated by several senior center groups, including the Forever Young Chorus, the Olympia Poetry Club, and the Reading Group.

Seniors gathered to share original poetry, personal stories and rememberances of the civil rights leader and movement, and hear excerpts read from Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches and writings.

Redecker, who has participated with the Poetry Club for about a year and a half, also leads a senior discussion group about the history of the Pacific Northwest on Fridays. After educating those gathered about the relationship between Hemings and Jefferson, she moved several people to tears with the reading of her poem.

Her poem was written in the voice of Sally Hemings, an African-American slave. She was a half-sister to President Thomas Jefferson's wife Martha, and a partner to Jefferson for 38 years, having several children by him.

Sally and Tom

Tom, you loved Martha, my sister,
And now secretly you love me.
But when will our babies be free, Tom,
When will our babies be free?

Answer me, Tom, just answer.
Our babies are slaves, like me.
You wrote of freedom for all, Tom,
But when will our babies be free?

I've raised her children and mine, Tom,
But we can't call them one family.
Listen to me, Tom, I'm begging,
When can our babies be free?

Thirty-eight years we've lain together,
And your name you can't give to me.
And when we are laid in our graves, Tom,
Will you still lie beside me?

I have one question for you, Tom,
Can you invent something for me?
A long telescope to see a faraway time
When all babies will be free.

(copyright) Diana Redecker
January, 2010

In honor of Sally Hemings and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sara Rucker Theissen, Senior Services for South Sound activity coordinator, said later, "When we collaborate and celebrate special events, we go deep. It's heartfelt."

Above: Senior Services for South Sound is located in downtown Olympia at 222 Columbia St. NW. Senior Services offers a wide range of services and resources, entertainment, clubs, classes, caregiving and home health care assistance, meals and more. Contact them at 586-7408 or www.southsoundseniors.org.


  1. It is such a shame that the public has been grosely misled by Monticello, Annette Gordon-Reed, Peter Onuf, Jan Lewis, Dianne Swann-Wright and some in the media. There is NO proof whatsoever that Thomas Jefferson fathered ANY of Sally Hemingses children.

    I personally assisted Dr Foster with the DNA Study and can specifically inform the readers that he chose a known Hemings and Jefferson DNA carrier, John Weeks Jefferson. He knew this, thus no doubt that there would be a match, BUT he refused to so inform Nature Journal of this as I strongly suggested, thus he and Nature concocted the FALSE headline. The Eston Hemings family always claimed descent from "a Jefferson uncle or nephew" NOT Thomas. Randolph Jefferson (TJ's much younger brother) was known to TJ's grandchildren and their slave playmates (Hemings, etc), as Uncle Randolph.

    Also visit my personal web page for further indepth details: www.jeffersondna.com.

    Herb Barger
    Jefferson Family Historian (www.tjheritage.org)

  2. Nice, very nice. Thank you for that! Just to let folks know, the number you can reach us at is 586-6181, the 7408 number is our fax number. Janine, I hope you continue to cover some of our events. You are a great writer, and it was a joy to have you here yesterday!

    Chris Quimby
    Activities Director
    Senior Services for South Sound

  3. KENNETH W. BURCHELLJanuary 21, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    The myth that Jefferson supposedly fathered children by his slave Sally Hemings is not supported by the evidence at all. What a shame that rumor and innuendo circulate so freely. If you don't believe me, read this:


    (you'll need to download the .pdf from this link)



    or the recently published book:


  4. What ever the truth is about whether or not Thomas Jefferson fathered the children of Sally Hemings, the poem "Sally and Tom" is profound, had me in tears from the first line through the end. Then I found myself squelching sobs. Again, it makes its point profoundly.

    Thank you, Diana Redecker, for saying so much, so simply, so movingly. I would be honored to share with you some of the lyrics and music I have written, telling the autobiographical story of Gretchen's Sweet Sixteen (one of The Billboard Critics' Picks for 10 Best Albums of the Year). Sound samples may be heard at www.GoldCupMusic.com

    Come Softly To Me,
    Gretchen Christopher

    PS: Again, thank you, Janine Gates, for reaching out to all of us in the capital city and state, that we may be apprised of what is going on, how to have a voice in the future of our beloved Olympia, and be touched by those such as Diana Redecker, a new star spotlighted in your Little Hollywood.