‘Til the Clouds Roll By

Current mood: contemplative

Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

My love affair with Hawaii began with my love of a woman – Princess Kaiulani, whose beauty and tragic story touched me so deeply as a young boy visiting the islands that I had to read everything I could about her.

She died young, too young at the age of 24, but her passion for her people, her violent struggle to protect her island nation from foreign rule was one that affected me in more ways than I can say. As I grew older, I still loved Kaiulani. I still do.

But my admiration for her morphed into a mania for Queen Lili’uokalani, to whom Kaiulani was the heir apparent.

Readers of my predominantly Hawaiian stories are probably familiar now with this last Hawaiian queen. Just as she was a woman of consequence, so was Lena Horne, another queen, another American original and although she was 92 when she died Sunday night, I feel bereft at her loss.

Like Kaiulani and Lili’uokalani before her, she fought racial hatred, rose above restrictions and cruelty and challenged the status quo.

Two of my upcoming books deal a little with the subject of racial intolerance – Creed: Honeybone 2, coming to eXtasy Books in four days, May 15 and The Mediator, coming to Total eBound on August 15. In both books the subject is peripheral but I thought it interesting that as I finished up Creed on Sunday night, that it was somehow apt that I’d made reference to another woman of consequence, another American original, Ruby Bridges.

My character, US Marshal Dean Honeybone, has been transferred to New Orleans. For those who don’t know or don’t remember, it was this unit that accompanied 6-year-old Ruby Bridges to school in 1960 when she became the first black girl to attend an all-white school with the abolition of segregation.

1960. It wasn’t that long ago.

The adult Ruby Bridges is as magnificent as you would hope a woman of historic consequence would be. She is amazing.

I hope one day to meet her and tell her how inspired I am by her courage. I cannot imagine what it was like to be 6 years old and not be allowed to trade food with my classmates because white parents have said they would poison you.

I cannot imagine what it was like for Ruby to see the coffin somebody left outside her classroom with a black baby doll in it.

Similarly, I cannot imagine how Lena Horne endured so much to be who she was. A civil rights pioneer from 1941, long before Ruby Bridge played her part in the story of change. Miss Horne defied the US Army by refusing to perform in front of segregated audiences.

And yet, for all of this, her voice, her talent and beauty were never squandered. She soared above it all. I watched her old movie ‘Til the Clouds Roll By last night, just to see her beautiful face.

Ever since I saw Leslie Uggams portray her in the stage musical Stormy Weather last year, I’ve been catching up on all things Lena. I can’t help feeling I have so much more to learn and yes, as I said before she was 92 but there is a huge hold left in this world by her passing.

I hope in God’s heaven there is no segregation, no intolerance or pain. I hope there is nothing but peace, love, beauty and lots and lots of rainbows. I hope one day I get to go there and meet her, to let her know how much she means to me. I want to meet them all, these daring, darling, women of consequence.

But I will have to wait.

‘Til the Clouds Roll By.


Currently listening: Stormy Weather By Lena Horne Release date: 2008-03-01

One Response to “‘Til the Clouds Roll By”

  1. I missed the original post of this and i am truly saddened that i did. Your right i do fondly remember your words about Kaiulani and Lili’uokalani. You have reminded me that its wasnt that long ago that the color of a persons skin mattered more that their character. Sadly that is something still alive today. Thank you for reminding me of all the wonderful empowered woman that i should look up to.


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