WE CREATE, WE DON'T IMITATE
Yvonne James (1958-) was born Naomi Pegues in rural Byhalia, MS, to Eula Bell Pegues, a teenage mother. She grew up on Harmen Street in the Hein Park neighborhood of a racially divided Memphis, TN. In 1964, at the age of 6, she was adopted by her maternal aunt and her husband, John and Ada Parker. As a result of the adoption, her name changed from Naomi Pegues (her maternal grandmother's name) to Yvonne Rechelle Parker.
A product of Memphis' Public School System, she attended Shannon Elementary School. Nearly 20 years later, in January 1983, Shannon Elementary became notoriously famous for being the Memphis Police Department command post during the Shannon Street Massacre, which played out directly across the street from the school. From there, Yvonne attended then Cypress Jr. High School. Among riots and protests by whites, her junior high school education at Cypress was interrupted during 8th grade in 1972 when the court's ordered the desegregation of Memphis City Schools by busing black students to white schools. It was a traumatic and life-altering experience. An experience that took her away from her beloved neighborhood schools to a distant, unfamiliar place.
After a long summer, all she had to look forward to was a bus ride to a strange neighborhood where she was unwanted and unwelcomed. Forever etched in her mind, that first day of desegregation. Back then, she was five feet and two inches, small-framed, and harmless - just a kid, barely a teenager, a ninth-grader. She and her neighborhood friends gathered at bus stops. She remembers approaching Trezevant Junior High School the first day, and as the bus drew closer to their destination, white mobs set up make-shift roadblocks to deter them.
Peering out of the bus' windows, with the image of vehicles blocking the street, car hoods raised so that they appeared broken down and disabled, an angry white mob, white men armed with shotguns and rifles, she remembers thinking to herself, "What are they so afraid of, I am just a child?" It was a tumultuous school year with boycotts, bomb threats, sit-ins, news media. So much so that the following academic year, they assigned her class to another school Kingsbury High School, from which she graduated in 1976 - but her school spirit was gone.
After public school, she enrolled in LeMoyne Owen College. In 1978, she married and started a family with her husband. They are still married and enjoying their six children, fifteen grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. In 1986, she began to pursue her ministry goals. She became a licensed Evangelist Missionary in the Church of God in Christ in 1986; some years later, in 2003, she was ordained as an Elder in a non-denominational church. During these times, she has served as a Sunday School Teacher, Outreach (Prison, Juvenile Detention, and Nursing Home) Ministry Coordinator, Drama Ministry Playrighter and Director, Bible Study Leader, and various other capacities as needed.
These are just a few of the life experiences that have shaped her life. Although she has been writing for years, after many years of her husband encouraging her to start her writing career, she published her first book, "Baring My Soul," A Collection of Poetic Literature, Inspirational Articles, and Short Stories in June 2016!