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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: What I learned from Almeta Crayton

By CHRISTINE JACKSON/Missourian Reader
October 24, 2013 | 5:56 p.m. CDT

Christine Jackson is an MU junior studying journalism. In this account, she remembers her interview with Almeta Crayton for a journalism class and reflects on what she learned from their discussion.

I may not have known Ms. Crayton well, but I felt I should share my experience with such an amazing woman.

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I am a journalism student at Mizzou, and like every other student to pass through the Missouri School of Journalism, I took Cross Cultural Journalism.

Anyone who's ever taken that class will remember the Inner Sanctum interview. The Inner Sanctum is a daunting 30 minute recorded interview with a source for a final group project.

My group was assigned a topic involving minorities and the Republican Party, and I went looking for a source that could provide some perspective.

I got so much more.

I was put in contact with Ms. Crayton, and she agreed to meet me without hesitation. You couldn't believe how grateful I was. Some people won't take the time to talk about something that won't ever be in print, but she didn't mind.

I met Ms. Crayton at the Columbia Mall, a little nervous for my first real interview since high school.

I sat down with her and started my questions, but before long we were just talking.

I went in wanting to know about her experience as a community leader and how she felt about the current Republican Party.

What I ended up with was several narratives from a woman who had seen a lot in 50 years. The amount of wisdom that Ms. Crayton shared with me in those 30 minutes was humbling.

She told me stories that opened my eyes to the kind of ugliness (that was her word for it) that exists in the world, but that I've been lucky never to have seen.

One of the things that struck me most, though, was her answer when I asked her what her experience with politics here was.

"Well, the experience that I had was that they were really not connected to every day people and that they're still not. I’ve found that because they are not connected economically or socially, that they really can’t relate to what the real problems are in the community, so they’re always gonna have that issue. They don’t get out to see enough. Only thing they know about is what they think they read. That’s not living amongst people, working with people, and those types of things. They come into running for offices as though it’s a, a prestige thing, but it’s not. Especially when you’re dealing with other peoples’ lives," she said.

What I really took away was that Ms. Crayton believed in her community, in being among people and being a part of them. She was so kind, but with everything she had seen she had reason not to be. She truly, truly cared.

Frankly, I'm honored to have met with her and heard her story before it was too late.

Do you have a memory of or tribute to Almeta Crayton? Share it by emailing submissions@ColumbiaMissourian.com.

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.