Shirley Wright had her last letter to the News & Record published on Jan. 22.
She died on Feb. 2.
Like me she was a Dudley graduate and, by her own account she led a full and gratifying life.
She was married to her “soul mate,” Noscoe Wright, for more than 50 years – “50 years, 7 months, 2 weeks, and 4 days,” she wrote in a note to her three sons.
“You, my sons, made my life worth living,” she wrote in the note, which was featured in the obituary. “Please don’t mourn my death; celebrate my life because your dad and I are finally back together again.”
But while she was with us, she had her say.
Which is to say, she wrote a lot of letters.
By my count Mrs. Wright had more than 30 published in the News & Record since 2015.
And every one of them was memorable in its own way.
Some were touching.
On the April 2018 tornados in east Greensboro, she wrote:
“Even though my power went out, God’s power struck the citizens hearts to help those in need. So many people reached out to others regardless of the color of their skin. Sometimes God allows tragedies to get our attention. There are more forces that unite us than divide us. Trials and tribulations do not make us who we are; they reveal what we really are.”
Mrs. Wright did not shy either from controversial topics or controversial positions on those topics.
About our esteemed president, she wrote:
“President Trump promised to make America ‘great’ again. During the midterm elections, more than 2 million people voted early in North Carolina.
“Several states had to do recounts because some of the races were so close. I credit Trump for the huge voter turnout. He is responsible for the Democrats’ takeover of the U.S. House. Even though Trump fell short of making America great again, he did make voting great again!
“Maybe by the year 2020 Trump will have learned that a half-truth is a whole lie; that there is no shortcut to quality, and that a bad attitude is like a flat tire: You won’t get anywhere until you change it.”
And on Confederate monuments:
“I have tried my best not to comment on the toppling of the Confederate statues. I am totally against any attempt to destroy history. I can no longer remain “Silent Shirley.”
“We can’t grab hold of the future if we keep holding onto the past. Although we are grounded in the past, we must not be grounded by the past. I admit those statues are symbols of racism that still exists, but just like the new three R’s — rats, roaches and racism — we will never get rid of any of them!
“From the bottom of a slave ship to the office of the White House, built by slaves, a black man served two terms as America’s president, thanks to black and white voters. The quickest way to lose hope for the future is to keep dwelling on the past.
“Perhaps if a bust of the first black president (Barack Obama) were to be added to Mount Rushmore, at least we won’t be driving looking through the rearview mirror.”
Here’s one she wrote about voter ID:
“When I read about the soon-to-come requirement that you must have photo ID in order to vote, I was truly puzzled why that would keep black people from voting. Early voting also was reduced from 11 days to nine days.
“But as a voter since 1965, I can’t imagine how these new rules or laws would stop me from voting. There are so many laws that people disobey: drinking and driving, drug abuse, speeding, etc. It has been said that the Republicans have gerrymandered safe districts for themselves.
“That in itself should be enough to get you to vote. If you want it badly enough, you will find a way; if you don’t, you will find excuses.”
As my Daddy used to say, she was a pistol.
I’ll miss her voice in the paper. I suspect you will, too.
Contact Editorial Page Editor Allen Johnson at email@example.com or (336) 373-7010.