Name: Ernestine Galloway
What words best describe you? Well, I am short. Compulsive. I hang in there. I will see a project to the end.
What inspires you? People, new ideas, technology, other people’s accomplishments, learning, music. I was an excellent piano player. I do voice. I also play organ.
What are you most grateful for? Mother. She was not a highly educated woman, but she was a bright woman. She taught me how to live. She died young at 51. My mother was the most inspiring person. She got things done. Even though she was married 3 times, I saw how she functioned. There was also Reverend Tucker. He had so much confidence in me. He always wanted me to seek, to discover. He was a Baptist minister. He told me to read The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan, so that I would get new ideas. Very inspirational.
What important values do you live by? It’s important that people learn to get along with one another; that people are able to value one another; that they think of human beings rather than their racial group and that kind of stuff. As the man said in California: “Why can’t we all just get along” (Rodney King). I frankly don’t understand. I do understand, but I don’t understand why people create such differences. We are, what we are. We should appreciate one another. I have friends in many groups. I have chosen them for who they are rather than their heritage. I do value them for the meaning they add to my life.
Life is… difficult. We have so much to learn. Life is to be lived to its fullest. Life is interesting. Life is to be loved and to be cherished.
Love is… difficult. We mistake love for infatuation. We often don’t know how to express it. Many people mistake things we see in the movies for love, but that’s not real love. Today, real love can be between male and female, female and female, and male and male. True love is something that is difficult to find. Sometimes we mix sexual gratification with true love. Sometimes when you find it, it’s gone. That was it. I did not realize that that’s what it was.
Work is… something we have to do to earn money. No, that is not true. It should fulfil our lives. It is important to do work that means something to you. We need to feel like we’ve accomplished something. Like life and love…it’s hard. It’s hard to find meaningful work. Those three things are kind of difficult, aren’t they? You look for those things for fulfilment.
Biggest achievement: Having achieved my doctorate, even though I don’t do anything with it. I’ve been a person who has been to church a lot, but after many years, I found out that institution is not what I want. I like being spiritual more. That’s an achievement, to recognize it and to work on that.
Hardest thing… to get my doctorate. I went to NYU for 35 years. I got my doctorate, a couple of masters, my bachelor’s and a certificate in media and television. That was difficult. In order to do that I couldn’t do my music—the piano—the way I should have, but that’s ok.
Most impactful or favorite book… Beowulf and all these books in high school. I didn’t understand then. I am re-reading the constitution. I do it because of what we are going through politically. I do like Shakespeare. Let me tell you what favorites I am reading right now: Cities That Built the Bible, by Robert R. Cargill; The Gendered Society, by Michael s. Kimmel; Seed to Harvest, by Octavia E Butler; Major Problems in American Foreign Relations, edited by Dennis Merrill and Thomas G. Paterson; and Slaves in the Family, by Edward Ball. I also enjoy reading scripture. It tells us a lot about human beings. Everything we do now, they did then.
Least favorite word… racism, because of what it has done not only to African Americans, but to white people too. We haven’t done justice by one another. Racism is very bad.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I am 90. In five years I will probably be gone, but if I am not gone… Since I have decided not to work anymore, it has freed me to explore writing. Something I never did in high school or college, except for assignments. Now I write about life, myself. The next thing I do may be to write a play. All of a sudden, I am writing. Poems. It is because I am not working for somebody else or even for myself. You have to find yourself, and you can only find it when you are free.