I never met Veronica Shoemaker--but I had certainly heard of her. Among other things, when I toured the local museum of black history, she was held up as a role model for the community. And that she was!
This past weekend her funeral service was held in Fort Myers, and hundreds turned out to pay their respects. Not just black folks, but white folks as well. Over the years she had come to be known as the Martin Luther King of Lee County. And like Dr. King, she often had to stand up against those who would put her down simply because of her race. I remember something I once read about Ginger Rogers. She was even a greater dancer than her partner Fred Astaire--because "she had to do everything backwards and in heels". I don't know if Ms. Shoemaker wore heels, but the challenges she faced, as a woman in one of the most segregated communities in the country, may have been even greater than Dr. King's!
What most impressed me about Ms. Shoemaker was her tenacity. She served for years on the Fort Myers City Council, but only after she had run for that office over a dozen times! Imagine the grit, the determination, the patience, that required!
I was glad that the city stopped long enough to acknowledge her passing in such a sincere way. My hope is that we who live here in Lee County realize that the real honor we can afford her, however, is to continue her work of assuring that all people are treated fairly, that right prevails. Might the seeds of hope that she planted grow into blossoms of justice!