I wish I could show you one of Linda's photographs. I wrote to one of Linda's dearest friends, Marsha Joyner (who publishes on HungryBlues from time to time) that Linda had a genius for seeing the beauty in people. This was evident in many ways, but it was really striking in her photographs.
To what I wrote before, I want to add that Linda Dehnad and Scott B. Smith were married on June 26, 2002 and then moved back to Alabama where Scott B had been active in SNCC and the Lowndes County Freedom Organization in the 1960s. In the 1960s, Linda lived in NYC and was a central cog in SNCC's New York office. At that time she was married to Danny Moses, who was also active in the Civil Rights and anti-war movements. They had a home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan which was a hub for many of the activists who came north from the South. From her first marriage, Linda is survived by three children, Jay, Julia and David.
Some of what I mean by Linda's genius for seeing the beauty in people is in these excerpts from an email she sent me on April 3 of this year.
I heard Taylor Branch talking in Lowndes County yesterday at the "Mother Church" at a book-signing, the best book signing I've ever seen, because all the people there who'd been involved in the Lowndes County Movement got up to talk and told stories and it was warm and tight and it felt historical. . . .
The first woman to introduce herself was Bernice Johnson, age 91, and I was thrilled because I've come across her name in books, and the name "Bernice" always stops me because of Freedom Singer Bernice (Reagon), and finally I see Bernice Johnson in the flesh. She was two rows ahead of me . . . and I crawled up and we shook hands and I told her, not too loud as to upset the meeting cause someone was speaking, I told her how I'd waited a long time to see her and meet her, and when she shook my hand it was like a clear message. I knew for sure that it meant something like "We are sisters, no doubt about that, and I'm as thrilled as you are." Second time I talked with her, was to ask if I could come over her house and take her picture because the lighting in the church made it hard, and her face is so beautiful I want to catch that beauty in a photo. We talked briefly about how I bet she had boys and men running all around her when she was young, and was she as beautiful then as she is now, and she just laughed and grinned and her eyes shone. Her daughter had to write the last two phone number digits cause she had forgotten them, and I also found out that her hearing aid had conked out and I couldn't figure out if it was fixable or her hearing was beyond help. That didn't seem to matter to her or to me. She squeezed my hand several times and it told me that it would be so much more fun to just get up and dance together and relate in some other way than with words. What struck me first was that it was exactly how I felt, and her message was clear and strong. . . .
Now I'm going to check out the pictures I took yesterday and I hope I have one I like of Bernice Johnson. I'll go visit her whether or not I do, and it wouldn't surprise me if we both got up to dance. Or might just sit in our chairs and do our dancing without standing. Lot's of the older women I was sitting with have an easier time walking than I do, but the doctor is going to put something that's not cortisone in my knees at 7:15 a.m. tomorrow and with luck I'll be standing up without groaning which would be good, because these women had all had a hell of a more difficult life than I have, and they have the right to groan before I do. I don't know. Maybe it makes me fit in more easily as we all laugh at each other's expression of pain.