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100 Years of Black West Virginia Youth Writing

From the Peters Sisters to Aiden Satterfield

At the turn of the 1920’s Sisters, Ada and Ethel Peters were writing about their experiences and perspectives in southern West Virginia during World War I.

Their poetry speaks to overcoming the persistent obstacles of the Jim Crow era in addition to gender, age, and geography.

They published “War Poems,” when Ada was age 18 and Ethel, age 17, “ to show the need for unity of all men in the fight for democracy ” and to comment boldly on the issues of racism in the context of war.

Experience these young writers in a unique interactive website (click the image)

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Fast forward 100 years and meet Charleston Catholic Senior Aiden Satterfield’s who recently wrote “ Why Me. TWENTY TWENTY ” at age 17.

Aiden found his first publishing byline in Wally and Wimpy’s Sports, a thirty-year-old publication by Workman Media LLC.

In the years between the Peters Sisters’ poetry and Aidens Satterfield’s inspiring sports auto-history, you’ll find a collective story in young Black writers from West Virginia who overcomee obstacles regardless of gender, age, and geography.

We hope these two stories will inspire you, and please share with a young writer and encourage them to write on!

Why Me Twenty-Twenty

By Aiden Satterfield

The year 2020 will go down in history as one of the most chaotic and sad years in human history. The Black Lives Matter movement to a deadly global pandemic ruined so many lives, futures, and potential memories.

In February of 2020, a month after, one of my idols, Kobe Bryant, died in a tragic helicopter crash. I got the news that my Dad had cancer, a rare stomach cancer called mesothelioma, and his prognosis was grim.

It was just by my luck that this news came on a game day. I’ve been a starting basketball player for my high school since my Sophomore year. There was an expectation on me in my Junior year to be a leader.

I walked on the court with the weight of the world, thinking about losing my Dad. Mentally, I couldn’t shake the thought. My Dad has watched every game and most of my practices since I started playing basketball at age five. Looking into the stands and not seeing or hearing him knowing that he could die really impacted my game.

I didn’t play my best even though I finished with 22 points and a handful of rebounds, and we lost.

It was the most challenging night of my entire sixteen-year-old life. I mean, tough. I felt like I didn’t want to play basketball anymore, and as I battled inside my emotions, I wondered why I wanted to quit the game I thought I loved and had dedicated so much time to. I didn’t care about my future at this point. I was always thinking, “Why me?”

Photo by Chris Dorst

Looking back, I understand how kids give up. Some leave athletics, turn to drugs, or other destructive behaviors. I was full of worry and self-pity, but I just kept going to school, going to practice, and trying to imagine my future in college.

My Dad’s diagnosis was still unknown, and this was hard. My team knew I was hurting, and they let me know they needed me. We were heading into the playoffs and could win. I started to have a shift. It sounds cliche, but I stopped thinking about myself and more about we.

We won the first two games of the playoffs and made it into the regional championship game. This would be the game that decided whether we make it to the State tournament.

It just happened to be the day my Dad was sent to Michigan to receive his chemotherapy treatment. It was March 12, 2020.

I’ll never forget that day. I felt so alone at my teammate’s house while my family is in Michigan, ensuring my father is alright getting ready to play the biggest game of my life.

The game started slow, our coach yelled at us, and then something in me clicked. I catch an alley-oop and dunk it. The crowd goes crazy. I block a shot and go down the lane and make a reverse layup.

I can’t describe this feeling. The crowd is cheering for my talent and knowing everything that’s on my mind with my Dad.

We won the regional championship, and we advanced to the state tournament. My dad’s surgery went well, he’s on his way home, and all I can think about is getting to play at the new Charleston Civic Center, a dream I’ve had since I was a little boy. My mental state is at an all-time high.

Then the next day, Governor Justice announces the postponement of all state tournaments due to Covid-19. I remember where I was. In eighth-period history class and I look down at my phone. Charleston Catholic is very strict about it, but it was a special circumstance, so my teacher understood.

I read the message from my coach and couldn’t believe it. It was like a wave of disbelief went through all of our bodies as I told my classmates the news. Then a few moments later, our principal announced we would be doing virtual learning.

The rest is history.

This is an ache that I will never forget. We were allowed one last practice, during which our team was devastated, and we cried our eyes out together.

At this moment in time, I completely changed my outlook on life. I’ve embraced a more positive outlook. The “why me?” mentality is gone.

By April, the state tournament was officially canceled. This means we will never know who won the tournament, and it’s like a ghost of an opportunity. I kept practicing my positive thinking and started imagining all the time I had to work on my game for next year.

(Photo From https://wvmetronews.com/2020/03/31/cchs-satterfield-leads-class-a-all-state-roster/ )

If I needed proof that a positive attitude works, I got it. Just on the 2020 State Tournament heels being canceled for all eternity, I was awarded First Team All-State Captain. One of the most prestigious awards in West Virginia high school basketball.

I thought, me, Aiden Satterfield, that kid who always sat on the bench had grown up literally to 6’6 and earned one of the highest athletic awards in the State, and I still had another year of High school to perform.

It felt surreal. My Dad was healthy, and my team made it to the States. I earned a prestigious award all while the world seemed so unsure. I felt so much gratitude.

These few months in 2020 changed everyone’s life, but they helped me develop a perspective that I will carry for the better. I learned that I couldn’t control anything but my attitude. Little kids look up to me now, and I’m so happy I didn’t give up and can be an example for others.

People often ask me why I smile and work so hard at basketball. I say, what is supposed to happen will happen and that God will take care of me, that’s why.

Editors Note:

Aiden Satterfield is Black By God’s Founder Crystal Good, youngest child.

Peace Be Unto You John 20:21

Video from 2021, Easter Sunday Parking Lot service

Levi Baptist Church. Rand West Virginia

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