Thursday, November 15, 2012



Blood Relatives

For many weeks now I have been posting information on face book and twitter as well as talking to all of you about my upcoming book release.

Below are a few pages from my new book Blood Relatives. I want to give you a small introduction to the book that will be, perhaps, the most important book I will ever write. This book is an important weapon in our fight to raise awareness about relationship violence in our country. Unlike my first book, WHEN YOU LIVE IN FEAR, Blood Relatives is more than a self-help or “How To” book. It tells the story of my family, a family that had to overcome the cycle of domestic abuse or a “generational curse” if you will, in order to save the lives and the future of the young women in our family.
Blood Relatives is the true story about my aunt, my sister and my cousin, and the relationships that cost them all their lives, all three before their 30th birthdays. 
Three generations, three precious lives lost. I am going to post a few pages each week. To purchase the book you can go on line to our website,
 I hope you enjoy reading my story. I would love to hear from you. Please drop me a note at and share your thoughts and stories with me.





Oprah often used to say that there are always warning signs that alert us to potential “red flags” in matters of the heart. Some call it a “divine voice,” while others describe it simply as woman’s intuition.
Either way, we as women need to heed it. Far too often, love will cause that voice to be silenced when competing with the “pillow talk” and empty promises of a smooth talking man.
“I love you” and “It’ll never happen again,” serve like balm that heals wounds and causes temporary amnesia. Until the next time it happens…
Unfortunately, for millions of women, that NEXT time ends up being the LAST time. Such was the case with three special women in my life.
Relatives whose fairy tale romances sadly had a tragic ending. Ina Mae Greene, my sister of thirty years. My Aunt Minnie, also known as the black “Marilyn Monroe,” and a beloved cousin, Maggie, “Baby Sister” to her family and friends.
In sharing their stories, it is my hope to shed light on domestic violence, increase awareness, and honor their legacy, spirit, and beauty.
I cannot help my sister, cousin, nor my aunt now. They are lost to us forever; but I can help someone else’s loved one to leave a violent relationship safely.

“A fox is a wolf who sends flowers.”—Ruth Weston

Aunt Minnie

Minnie Lee and her sisters; Annie Mae my mother, Willa Mae, her oldest sister, Catherine the next oldest sister and Carrie Mae, the youngest sister, were very close and spent most of their spare time together. Because Aunt Minnie was the stylist in the family, she was the one responsible for all of their hair and make-up before they went out on a date or even to work. Yes, the Curtis sisters were a special group of women and everyone in the neighborhood knew it.
After Aunt Minnie graduated from high school in the 1950’s, she attended Beauty Culture School on the Northwest side of Chicago. Before she graduated from beauty school she had a job working as a shampoo girl at the beauty salon owned by our cousin Musset on the south side.
Also while she was in high school, she was befriended by a local business woman on the north side of Chicago.  Minnie's new friend also owned a beauty salon, located at Wells and Division, close to where my aunt was living at the time. Her name was  Ruby Dawson, (not her real name), Polly to her friends and family.
Not only was Polly a good friend, she was also a great mentor to my aunt through-out her career. She promised Minnie Lee a job as soon as she graduated from Beauty Culture School.  Although Miss Polly was being a loyal friend by keeping her word about giving my aunt a job, she was no fool, she knew how talented Minnie Lee was and that she was a living testimony to her work and talent.
Minnie was beautifully styled and always well groomed-- she was often referred to as the Black Marilyn Monroe in the neighborhood.
While out with Miss Polly one evening, my aunt met a man named Raymond Jessie. Meeting Raymond would change all of our lives forever. At the time she met Raymond she was still married but separated from her husband Robert Wright (Bobby to his friends).
Unfortunately, they had been separated for more than a year, and my aunt was still working thorough the emotional issues concerning her marriage.  She was not looking for a serious relationship, she simply wanted to have a good time.  She was not looking for a new husband or to get involved, just occasional dating. Raymond was not someone her family or her friends wanted her to date. He had a reputation for being short tempered and quick to anger; there were rumors that he often fought with the women he dated.
My aunt’s friend Polly begged her not to date Raymond. She was so persistent about not wanting her to date him, it was as if she knew something that she was afraid to tell my aunt. But she did share with her that it was rumored that Raymond was very possessive and aggressive toward the women he dated, his personality was quiet, brooding, and very controlling (not a good combination).
My aunt Minnie was young and was determined to make her own choices no matter how wrong they might seem to others. Minnie was in her late 20’s; she wanted to live her life on her own terms. She was not about to let anyone tell her how to live. So she went out with him anyway.
After the first couple of dates Raymond became very possessive, as Polly predicted, often following my aunt to work or just showing up when she was out with her friends or her sisters. She once commented, to my aunt Carrie Mae, that he was creepy to her and she did not like the fact that he would show up uninvited; she would look up and he would just be there!
My aunt stated to one of her sisters that Raymond's attention was beginning to make her uncomfortable. Although they didn't have a name for it back then Raymond's behavior today would be known as stalking.
Stalking is a crime of obsession, and is often associated with different types of psychopathology. By definition “Stalking is a repetitive pattern of unwanted, harassing or threatening behavior committed by one person against another...Acts include: telephone harassment, being followed, often receiving unwanted gifts, and other similar forms of intrusive behavior." (see reference list)
This was December of 1960, among other things going on in her life during this time, my uncle Bobby was talking to my aunt about giving their marriage another try; Aunt Minnie was definitely considering it. After almost two years of separation and going through different relationships, she found that all she wanted was to be with a man she could trust, one she knew loved her and accepted her for who she was.
Aunt Minnie was talking with Carrie Mae one afternoon while they were together planning Minnie’s birthday party. Minnie brought up Raymond and how he made her nervous and also that she did not like having him around her.
My aunt Carrie told her that she didn’t have to keep dating him, that it was her choice and also that everyone knew she and her husband were going to get back together even though she at this point had not voiced it.  The family knew she loved Uncle Bobby and that she wanted to get back together with him.
Raymond’s behavior was stalking, love obsessive stalking to be exact. We will discuss other types of stalking behavior, in detail, later in the following chapters. His desire was getting in the way of him seeing the truth about their relationship. The relationship was never meant to be a serious one, as they discussed before they began dating, just dating, nothing more. But in his mind, it was much much more and he wanted to prove it to her.
My aunt called Raymond after they had been dating about a month, remember they started to date in November and this was toward the end of December. Minnie wanted to let Raymond know that she was planning to give her marriage a second chance. She told him that she owed it to her marriage to give it another try. Raymond was very angry; he said that she could not just walk out on him like that!
My Aunt told Raymond that the relationship was over and that was the end of it. She also told him that she didn’t owe him anything and asked him not to call her, not to come by her job and not to follow her around anymore, it was over!………………….. Two weeks before my aunt had this conversation with Raymond, my Grandmother said to my mother, Annie Mae that she had a dream about Aunt Minnie and that in the dream she saw Aunt Minnie being killed. She couldn’t make sense of the dream so after leaving the salon one afternoon with Aunt Catherine, Aunt Willa Mae, Aunt Minnie and my grandmother suggested they go to a reader (dream interrupter) to help her make sense of the dream that would not let her rest.
Please remember that my grandmother grew up in the south in the 1800’s. Although I would not recommend this as a way of planning your future today-- it was not uncommon for the women of that time to go to “readers,” to interpret dreams and “read” for each other. There were women in the community who were well known for this and performed rituals, often as a service to the community. Typically these women were highly regarded members of the community.

The reader they went to see that day repeated most of what my grandmother said that she saw in the dream back to my grandmother. She said that she could see a man chasing my aunt and then killing her with a knife.
Needless to say that my aunt Minnie was very upset by this and told them all that she did not believe a word of what the reader had said,  that this woman was crazy, then she left the readers house in a huff.
Though she would never admit it to anyone, my aunt really was afraid because she knew that Raymond was angry. Minnie kept remembering that one of the last things he had said to her was that " was not over and she was not going to walk out on him like that, and that he would GET HER for this!"
Upset and frustrated, my aunt wanted to put all of this drama behind her. She had lots to look forward to: she was reuniting with the love of her life, she was seriously considering a job with American Airlines, (as one of the first African American flight attendants), which brought a world of possibility that she could only dream of, and she was going to have a huge birthday party soon. Yes, she had a lot to be happy about, and she was not about to let my grandmother’s dream and a crazy fortune teller spoil all this for her……..
Still my Grandmother was worried about Aunt Minnie. She couldn’t shake the dream, the reader’s prediction and the fact that she had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. My grandmother asked my Uncle Alton to look out for his sister-- he was a Chicago Police Officer, one of the few Black ones in the city at the time. He assured my grandmother that he would do all he could to keep her safe; he assumed that Raymond would use her birthday party to show his face.
He invited several of his police officer friends, both Black and White officers. They would all ensure that Raymond would not cause trouble that night.
The night my aunt was murdered, she was working overtime at the salon to prepare for her party. She wanted to make sure that she would have that was needed to make her big night a success.
It was two days before her 28th birthday and birthday party. Minnie was leaving the salon late and was taking the lake street El Train to the west side to a friend’s house that was making a dress for her for the party. Raymond must have been watching her and likely following her for days, waiting for the opportunity to get her alone.
When she exited the train, he was across the street at the bottom of the stairs of the El- platform; she saw him too late. He grabbed her by the arm and tried to force her across the street to his car……..there was a newsstand at the end of the platform—the paperman saw the entire exchange. In court, he testified that the man and my aunt were arguing violently……Raymond slapped her but she tried to fight him back. He punched her in the face with his fist which dazed her so he was then able to force her across the street into his car. The man in the news stand heard him say, “If I can’t have you no one can. You will regret trying to leave me.” The paperman said that he asked my aunt if she was ok and if he could be of some assistance. Raymond yelled at him, stating "mind your own business if you know what's good for you...BACK OFF!....this has nothing to do with you!”
The man was older and no match for Raymond. Unfortunately there wasn’t anything the man could do to help my aunt, short of attacking Raymond himself and that could have gotten him killed. It is never safe to jump into the middle of a domestic—dispute the best thing you can do is call 911 and try to get a description of the person or persons and also a description of the car and license plate number. Though commendable, many a bystander has been hurt or even killed trying to help another person under attack.
When they got into the car, my aunt and Raymond continued to argue. Raymond told her that she could not make him look like a fool by leaving him and that he could not see her with another man even if it was her husband. Then he asked her if he was not man enough for her and then stated that he was twice the man that Bobby was and that she was crazy if she thought he was going to let her go.
Aunt Minnie tried to calm Raymond down by trying to reason with him. She reminded him of other women that she knew who were interested in him. She also reminded him that she and Bobby were still married and that she should be with her husband. She said again that there were lots of single women he could be with but this only made Raymond angrier and he began to threaten her.
Minnie told Raymond that he was scaring her and for him to stop the car and let her out. He pulled off into the park and when the car stopped she tried to get out. He grabbed at her, but she slipped out of her coat and made it out of the car. He got out and came after her. While she was running and trying to get her bearings, she was still quite shocked and dazed from the punches he had given her. When she looked around and saw him coming after her, she started to run again. He ran after her, caught her and grabbed her by the hair. Then he pulled her head back and cut her throat, just like that!
She fell to the ground and he left her where she fell, without her coat in Chicago in December on the ground to die! Two days before her 28th birthday, two weeks after the visit to a reader with her mother and sisters, my Aunt Minnie Lee Curtis died alone on the ground in a park. The coroner said that she was likely dead before she hit the ground……….
During his trial, Raymond Jessie testified that my aunt begged for her life. Those pleas obviously fell upon deaf ears. Part of Raymond’s obsession was that he would rather see her dead than with another man.
It is important to have some understanding of stalking behavior if you feel that you are being stalked. The type of behavior that Raymond Jessie exhibited when he was dating my aunt has a direct correlation to how he received the news of the breakup.
Raymond’s behavior was stalking, more precisely Love Obsessive Stalking. This type of stalking behavior is present when a stalker obsesses over his or her victim in an attempt to make them participate in the illusion and act out the role assigned for them in the stalker’s imaginary world………..