I am starting a new thing. From now on I will try my best to be more committed to providing writings every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Mondays will be “Move the Mountain Mondays”, Wednesdays will be the writing I provide for gatheringathisfeet.org, and Friday’s will be something I still have yet to think of.
Today, being Monday, is “Move the Mountain Monday”. These posts will be based on:
Matthew 17:20b – if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
The purpose will be to show how even the smallest act (including changing ourselves by how we think or respond to situations) can change our outlook on life, our environment, and the atmosphere surrounding us. These will be through personal stories (of myself or others), Biblical teachings as I currently understand them, or just ideas floating in my mind. Today this will be shown through honoring someone for Black History Month.
Black History Contribution
Glynis Coates, M.D. (Glynis Pitts)
With today being the last day of Black History Month I chose to honor a person who is not known by the masses; a person who does not (as of yet anyway) have her own Wikipedia page. This person is Dr. Glynis Coates. I choose to honor her because just as the figures from the past have inspired our present, our present inspires our future. I choose to share Dr. Coates’ story to inspire us all that no matter what is in our past, we have a choice to be better than our past and create our future in a new light (not forgetting our past but forgiving it and those in it).
I first met Dr. Coates (Glynis Pitts then) at John Handley High School in Winchester, VA while we were both students. I remember her always being a gracious and kind person. All I knew of her life was that she had a younger sister and their home was the local children’s home for fostered children. In my recent phone interview with Dr. Coates I learned more of her past and how she came to be a fostered child.
Glynis was living in Baton Rouge, LA with her family and at the age of 4 her family life took a terrible turn. Her father left leaving her, her 7 month old sister, and her mother destitute. Glynis recalls the family being on financial assistance as well as government housing. A few years later her father and her mother reconciled which caused them all to live in Maryland together. Her father and mother remarried only to have it again end in divorce. Not having any friends or family in the area Glynis, her sister, and her mother had to move back to Louisiana to stay with her mother’s parents. Glynis recalls this time period as being difficult because there was such negativity against her mother from the grandparents. Glynis remembers being in the 4th grade when this move took place. For the next three years they would move constantly causing (as Glynis remembers) her to be in at least 20 different schools.
Around the 7th grade Glynis’ mom dated this man whom they later realized was a con-artist using women for financial and other gain. He sexually, mentally, physically, and verbally abused Glynis and her sister. Glynis tried telling her mother but she did not believe the accusations. Glynis tried calling the police but they did not believe her thinking she was only a child upset because she had to do common chores. The following day after calling the police Glynis was at a neighbor’s house with her sister and the neighbor noticed a huge bruise on her sister’s leg that could have only been caused by physical abuse. The neighbor called the authorities and Glynis as well as her sister were removed from her mother’s care. At this time they were living in Florida. Glynis was separated from her sister for a few months due to the foster care availability. The police informed her mother that the father needed to be called so the girls could be with him. He was called and came to get Glynis and her sister. The father came to Florida to pick them up and brought them to the Northern Virginia area.
The father was struggling with substance abuse and was unable to handle the responsibilities of being a father. Again, Glynis and her sister were removed. They were placed in a foster care home together but it did not work out. Glynis remembers the foster family as being very nice and caring but unable to handle the situation as it was. Glynis and her sister were moved to New Mexico with biological family. Yet again the situation did not work out. The social worker stepped in and Glynis and her sister were moved back to the Northern Virginia area but this time it was in Winchester, VA to the Henry & William Evans Home for Children. This was the last time they had to move in their youth but the first time in a long time they felt at home.
Glynis had a healthy high school experience. She credits the Evans Home for that. She told me they helped her with anything she needed including helping her finance a car, teaching her how to budget, providing supplies and clothing for school, and even later helping her with financing for her medical residency.
It would be easy to justify, by societal standards, if Glynis became a negative statistic. Instead of a negative statistic she has become someone that can inspire many to overcome the adversities thrown at them. Glynis is now happily married living back in Louisiana. She has a 7 month old baby boy and is an Emergency Medical Physician. Dr. Coates is not only an inspiration for the youth but also for adults. Her life story is full of struggles yet she gained the strength to remain positive through it all and she remained a support system for her younger sister through all the trials. She found a family that not only supported her financially but also emotionally and mentally with making her a part of their life and giving her a place she felt comfortable to call home.
Black history is American history. The struggles and contributions of African-Americans are integrated into the historical fabric of America. This holds true of all American citizens. All of us make up this land of America. If we deny any group’s history it is denying the truth of the principles America was founded on. Dr. Glynis Coates is one of many that show the greatness of not only the American experience but the human experience. Her outlook on life is to remain positive even through the struggles.
We salute you Dr. Coates for overcoming your struggles and for your current and future contributions to Black History and American History.
-Alicia R. Shipe-