March 29: Maundy Thursday; Maurice's birthday!
March 29, 1944: Birthdate of Maurice Henry Carter.
Interesting that this comes up during Holy Week. That Maurice’s birthday actually falls on Maundy Thursday.
These days I think so much about the mother of Jesus. Just a few decades earlier she had given birth to this child under the most mysterious of circumstances. And now, to have it all come to an end under the most cruel of circumstances. Heart-breaking!
Maurice Carter’s death was heart-breaking for his mother, as well.
Little black boy, born to a kind, Christian woman in Gary, Indiana, whose husband wasn’t around any longer.
A nice little boy, always soft-spoken. Son of a single mom in an inner city neighborhood, their home next to a red-light-house, he managed to endear himself to the “ladies of the night.” He was the polite young man who took their apparel to the dry cleaners for their generous tips and grateful words.
As with most young black man of that day and that area, he got into his share of scrapes and problems.
But he took pride in himself. Always dressed properly. Pleasant demeanor. No unkind words. Didn’t descend into the pit of drugs, thievery, sex and debauchery.
Then came that fateful day in the Christmas season, 1973, when an off-duty police officer was shot and injured in downtown Benton Harbor. Maurice just happened to be in town that day with an acquaintance. One year later, that same “friend” turned into the jail-house snitch who told police that Maurice was the shooter.
The rest is history. The snitch recanted, but too late. Maurice was found guilty of assault with intent to commit murder and sentenced to life in prison: no weapon, no motive, no fingerprints, no evidence. A white cop was shot, and a black man was going to pay. Maurice paid with 29 years!
Back to his mom. When I came aboard, adopted Maurice as my brother and member of my family, and committed myself to obtaining his freedom, I also became a member of his family. I made certain that every Mother’s Day and every Christmas I paid her a visit in Gary. How she would laugh when I reminded her that if Maurice was my brother, she was my mother!
I’m thinking of Jesus’ mother this week.
I’m thinking of Maurice’s mom, too.
Two mothers who dealt with more than their share of pain. Two mothers who knew their sons were not guilty.
Maurice Henry Carter: March 29, 1944-October 25, 2004.