Mary Coleman grew up in Charleston. Her father, Ed Coleman, was rector at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church for 20 years, from 1965 (the year the Voting Rights Act was passed by Congress) to 1985 (the year Ronald Reagan was sworn in for a second term as president). Today, she is a family therapist living in Los Angeles.
After hearing Barack Obama’s recent speech on race, a speech delivered in the wake of controversy over comments Obama’s now-retired pastor made several years ago, Coleman, 46, has decided to travel with a group of friends to Pennsylvania to help with the presidential candidate’s campaign.
She remembers when her father was called a “(n-word)-lover” for advocating integration.
She remembers the fights in the playground when she was a child, the kids who attacked her because her father invited blacks inside the church.
So when Obama won the Democratic primary in South Carolina, she was moved.
“I literally cried my eyes out,” she says. “A lot of people were working a long time, including my father (for this day).” And they have endured a lot of grief.
Coleman cried again when she heard the March 18 speech.
“This is really the beginning of the healing,” she says. Or the beginning of what she hopes will be an honest discussion that leads to healing. “Maybe there has got to be this fight before the healing.”