Frances Westmoreland (nee Wilson) was the co-founder of the Awakening social movement. She was also the official co-chair of the Discovery Working group from 1991-1995, and co-founder and honorary trustee of the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia Police Athletic League chapter from 1973-1975. Mrs. Westmoreland also served as primary recruiter of the Morning Sun youth recruitment program until her retirement in 2006.
"When I was around seven, I remember coming home crying one day because of something a little white boy had said to me at school. I had never experienced racism before, and it devastated me. At home I was waiting for my mother to console me or get angry, but instead she took me into our backyard, knelt down and burrowed her hand down deep into the ground. We never planted or buried anything in our backyard, so I was confused as to what she was doing. She pulled her hand up out of the ground and gestured for me to open my hands. She placed the thick rich black dirt into my cupped hands, and this is what she told me, 'This is who we are!'
"I started crying again. My mother had just told me we were ugly, nasty, worm and insect infested dirt. But she enclosed my dirt filled hands with her own to comfort me. Slowly, she withdrew her hands from mine and said, 'The good Lord raised us from this,’ pointing to the dirt in my trembling hands. ‘Look at the dirt, now look at your skin. They're the same color. Do you know what that means?' she asked.
"No," I responded.
'It means that no matter what anyone says to you, always remember that we look the way we do because after the Lord created our wonderful Mother Earth, he reached deep inside her like I just did and made the first man from the dirt within her.'
"Then she asked me, 'You remember the rest of Genesis?'
"I nodded.'Then you also remember the Lord took one of the first man’s ribs and created the first woman. They were the first family. And because they were the first, they were the strongest and the smartest, and the Lord gave them power over every animal in the world!’
"She looked at me intently and said nobly, ‘Fran, it doesn't matter what anybody says, because no one is better than you. Our Father is the Creator of the universe. Our mother is the thick rich ground we were raised from. We are her children, and before we return to our Father, we will return to her when our lives are done. This is who we are!’
“From that day I’ve never looked at dirt the same way again. For many of us I know the way forward will be difficult, and you will face many challenges. But if you ever get weary of the struggle and need a reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing, maybe take a stroll through a garden or park, kneel on the ground to commune with your unseen Heavenly Father, then dig deep and connect with your Earth Mother to remember who you are and what power has been bequeathed to you.”