Memories of a wholesome Brookhaven

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, August 16, 2016

I am writing to commend Ms. Donna Campbell on her story “Bridget London Hall’s Father: ‘If He Killed My Daughter, He Could Kill Somebody Else,'” published online on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016.

The story is gripping and on-point for a number of reasons. Not only is it a reminder to the Brookhaven community of how special Bridget was to her family and friends, it also captures the lingering heartache and suffering that a parent (in this case, her father) undergoes when a child’s life is cut short due to senseless violence. Ms. Campbell’s approach to telling the story strikes me as a message of unity and communal responsibility to Brookhaven residents. It certainly compelled me to write in; share my thoughts about Bridget; and verbalize my concerns about the broader issue, which is Brookhaven’s decline from the safe, wholesome town that I knew it to be when I was a kid growing up there.

Where Bridget is concerned, I’d like to share an experience that took place over 25 years ago, but it still enlivens me today. I was sitting in the audience at a Miss Ebony pageant, that was held in the auditorium of Alexander Junior High School. Bridget was one of the contestants. For the talent portion of the competition, she sang John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

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That was my first time hearing her sing. She was just a kid, but the power she released on stage that evening was hypnotizing. Her voice, her presence, her level of confidence, and her obvious passion for the song sent shock waves through the audience. The whole crowd was in love with her. Years later, when she and I ended up as roommates for a brief time at Jackson State, it didn’t surprise me that she had been awarded a voice scholarship. It hurts to know that she’s no longer with us.

As a Brookhaven native, I remember people living as members of a wholesome community rooted in strong morals and values. That was the childhood I knew. People looked out for each other. Parents set standards for their children, and they taught us the meaning of respect and love. Fast forwarding to where we are now, I often hear my friends and family, who still live in Brookhaven, say that safety is becoming more and more of a concern for them due to violent crime, especially when perpetrators remain on the streets – as is the case with Bridget’s murderer(s).

Next year, I’ll be moving back home to be closer to my aging parents. Needless to say, I too have issues with the sad transition our town has experienced. My concerns grew even more a few weeks ago when I read an online Daily Leader article, in which Brookhaven’s police chief said that he didn’t think Bridget’s murder would ever be solved. If the top official in law enforcement expresses such hopelessness, where does that leave citizens? Right now, I live in Detroit, Michigan, a place that I love and have gained so much from; however, I cannot overlook the reality that it ranks high among U.S. cities with devastating crime rates. That’s a part of Detroit that I will be happy to leave behind. Unfortunately, though, I hate to admit that the same thing exists in Brookhaven, my hometown, nicknamed “The Home Seeker’s Paradise.” At one time, I knew it to be that, and I pray for restoration.

I would like to thank Ms. Campbell again for her work. As a writer, she has the incredible advantage of raising awareness and possibly getting people to take action. I’m sure she knows this. I hope that she will continue to use her authority to keep Bridget relevant in the community and publicize ways that we can all unite to put a stop to senseless killing and other crimes in the town that belongs to all of us.


LaWanda Black Dickens