Saturday, May 24, 2008

Bill Pelke on Mike Kennedy, X , Susybelle & More! DALLAS

Mike Kennedy: free-lance abolitionist from Dallas;part of the Journey of Hope Family
Bill Pelke's comments on Mike and more in Dallas

On Tuesday, May 20th, I left Anchorage, Alaska and flew to Dallas, Texas to rejoin Capital X and the final leg of his Walk 4 Life. My friend Dirk Sisson provided me with a first-class round-trip ticket with his frequent-flyer miles. It was one of the few times in my hundreds of flights that I was booked first class. Since it was an all-night flight I knew I would be ready to go when I hit the ground in Dallas and it added to my anticipation of joining X.

I arrived in Dallas at 6:00 am, rented a car and set out to meet-up with Capital X. When I arrived at the home of Susybelle Gosslee who was hosting X during his time in the Dallas area, X was standing in front of the house.

After we greeted each other, I told X about my friend Mike Kennedy who lived about twenty minutes away from Susybelle’s. I explained how Mike was a great abolition friend of mine and that I knew he would appreciate a visit from us if X could take a break in his walk sometime during the day. X said he would like to meet Mike.

It was great to see Susybelle again. Susybelle had been tremendously supportive of the Journey when we toured through Dallas in October of 2007. Then I got online before X was to begin his activities for the day.

One of the first messages I read was from Rick Halperin, my friend and Journey board member. The subject was “The passing of Mike Kennedy”. Mike had died of a heart attack on May 7, but his family did not know how to contact anyone in the movement and we were just finding out.

There was a memorial service the following day and I told X I needed to attend it and asked if he would like to join me. After walking about 20 miles, X got into my car and we headed to Garland,Texas for the service. I am so glad we went. The priest talked about Mike’s dedication to capital punishment. Mike’s brother, Jerry, gave a very heart-touching eulogy and again pointed out Mike activism with the death penalty.

When we left the church we had Mike’s cane that he used in many of his abolition walks. That cane will be a memorial of Mike at future abolition events like "The Annual Fast and Vigil" which Mike always attended in Washington DC. All of us in the Journey of Hope will greatly miss Mike.

In addition to Capital X’s walk we were able to stop by for a surprise visit to Ken and Lois Robison. Ken and Lois have traveled with the Journey on many occasions, including ones in the Philippines and in Europe when they were crusading for their son,Larry, who was eventually executed by the state of Texas in 2000.

Today we walked through Waco and were joined by Delia Perez (whose brother Louis is on death row in Texas) and Allison Dieter, a long time friend of mine. They drove up from Austin and walked a number of miles with X. It was a very hot day, but Allison and Delia were real troopers. X also walked quite a few miles by himself. I would drive on down the road and wait for X to catch up and take a short break. At one point a police officer stopped X and Delia and told them they could not be by the side of interstate and that they had to walk on the access road. I was able to capture most of it on camera.

Tonight we were joined in Temple, Texas by Kristen from Norway (whose husband is on death row in Texas). She had just spend two days in Livingston visiting him and had the sad duty of telling him on Thursday that the State of Texas had given him an execution date for late August. It has been a stressful couple of days for her and she was so happy with Capital X for his love of the death row inmates and their families and for all he was doing for the cause of abolition.

Tomorrow X heads out early trying to get as close as he can to Round Rock and prepare for his walk into Austin on Sunday. Kristen will be joining the walk with about 10 of her husband’s family. They will all be wearing white T-shirts promoting the Walk 4 Life. There is a link on this page (RIGHT COLUMN) for others interested in getting one of those Walk 4 Life T-Shirts.

I will be operating the video camera and it should be a great picture with them all walking with X.

Susybelle, Ken and Lois, Delia and Allison all bought us meals the last three days and Susybelle made a generous donation to help. We are very appreciative as expenses like renting a car, gas (64 dollars when I filled up today) ice, water, lodging and other items add up.

If you would like to help with the Walk 4 Life, please use the DONATE button on this blog and designate it to the Walk for Life.

More later as we approach Austin and are joined by my good friend Katia Rabbaci, the director of the Italian group Voices of the Voiceless, who has orchestrated much of X’s walk. Several others from Italy and other locations will be joining us soon.


PS Bill sent a note reminding me that the photo of Mike and Sister Helen shown just below looks like it's from the 1996 "Journey of Hope".

No comments: