Verdis Daniels, Jr., 1977 NISD graduate, US Air Force Veteran, Works for TX Workforce Commission

My Story: Experiencing the Racial Environment of the 60’s and 70’s in Nacogdoches, Texas


Somebody Prayed For Me
Somebody prayed for me, had me on their mind, they took the time and prayed for me. (Oh Yes they did, I’m so glad) I’m so glad they prayed I’m so glad they prayed
(So glad they prayed)(So glad they prayed) I’m so glad they prayed for me.
By Dorothy Norwood
Growing up in the segregated south, this song was a reality for a lot of black families. Years after Jim Crow ended there was always the fear of young black males encountering law enforcement. Being in the wrong place could have a bad outcome regardless of innocence. For 17 years of my life the prayers prayed for me worked. A world of educational opportunities opened up to me. And I took full advantage. Encouraged by my family, community and educators, a chance at college was within my grasp. It all ended one November night. From being featured with a photo in the Daily Sentinel to being photographed in a police station room, all within a span of a few weeks. I went from being a National Merit Semifinalist to a charge of aggravated robbery. But somebody prayed for me. A decision by the current DA not to seek reelection and the election of a new DA resulted in charges being dropped. But from November to January my future was in doubt. As I reflect back I always thought I was lucky. Or more so that by the grace of God the truth won out. But now I realize the trauma of my ordeal. No one explained to me why I was charged. No one asked me how I was feeling. No one came to me to try to piece together a shattered dream. As I look at the number of exonerations of people wrongfully convicted I see one common thread. Not once does those responsible for the conviction; not the prosecutors; not the investigating officers; not the arresting officers; not the jurist, offer anything but a tepid apology. Those wrongly convicted are made to feel like they should feel grateful that the truth prevailed regardless of how long it took. I think of this more with the release of Gary Tyler this year. We were the same age and from the same part of the country. Gary was from West Louisiana. I was from East Texas. Same environment when it comes to racial attitudes. And I think that maybe because somebody prayed for me I didn’t suffer Gary’s fate. But I’m sure somebody prayed for him. And I realize God works in His own time. Even though my charges were dropped I feel I share something with Gary. The people involved are quick to emphasize the system worked. But no one seems to care about the trauma suffered. Empathy seems to be just a word on the daily crossword puzzle. It’s in their vocabulary, i.e. brain. But absent from their heart.