The last few months of civil unrest, I have listened to many different people speak their opinions. One of the most recent conversations is about the flag, what it represents, who has fought for it, and the men who have died for it. The MEN who have gone on the frontlines and given their lives for it. The MEN who have come back from the frontline and were not respected for it. I am very proud to say that I am the great-granddaughter of Charles Wesley Dunn Sr. A Tuskegee Airmen, a MAN who fought bravely for the United States of America. However, this blog post is not about his bravery or anything to do with any other MAN that fought overseas. This is about an officer’s wife. Let me explain…
Myrtle Lee Dunn is my great-grandmother, and if I am perfectly honest Charles Wesley Dunn Sr. died before I was even born. My GG was a woman who is ingrained into the very fiber of my DNA. She was as sweet as she was strong. She drank her beer out of a frosted mug and made the best and I do mean the BEST lemon bar (that I still CAN NOT duplicate), that you will ever taste. She was an officer’s wife. A BLACK military officer’s wife in the 30’s where that meant nothing to some and everything to others. So, while my great-grandfather was off fighting battles in the air, she was fighting battles on the ground. My GG had two children, my grandmother Bobbie (you will hear more stories about her in another post I promise) and my granduncle Charlie. One day all the “officer’s kids” were supposed to be taken to the pool, but the bus driver would not take my uncle Charlie. I don’t have to explain to you why in the 40’s they refused to take the young black boy whose father was of the same rank. (For the same reason in 2020 in Marcia Grant a Maryland mother was told by the General Manager of Ouzo Bay Restaurant that her son could not eat in the restaurant due to their dress code policy despite the fact she recorded a Caucasian boy in the exact same attire.)
My GG was not having it. Myrtle Lee Dunn drove to the road and blocked the bus with her car. She demanded to know if her son was on that bus. She was not moving her car until he told her and He said “No Ma’am.’ My GG demanded respect that day. Many people tend to forget that black women instilled pride & self-respect into their children while their husbands were off at war. Women showed their children how to stand against bigotry and stand up for what is right. (The same way Marcia Grant stood up to that General Manager when she showed him his bigotry to his face. That his “company policy” to allow one child’s athletic gear into their establishment but not her beautiful black son was nothing more than racism in 2020. She showed her son that he must demand respect, the same way my GG showed my uncle Charlie that he must demand it as well.)
As black women, we cannot protect our children from racism, and many people wonder why I am the way that I am about speaking up for women’s rights, especially as a black woman. It is because it is ingrained in me. It is something that my GG taught my grandmother Bobbie, my Uncle Charlie, my mom, and me. The most precious gift you can give yourself is to be proud of who you are, to hold your head up and never let anyone treat you less than you deserve. While I am proud of being the great-granddaughter of a Tuskegee Airmen, it was his wife, Myrtle Lee Dunn who has truly given me lessons on how to fly.