Ok, so that isn’t necessarily true. My name is Adeline Marshall, and I am really good friends with Sarah (despite our lack of interaction during the show). She’s actually my best friend. Our friendship was strained because of Coalhouse, however. She really liked him, but I did not think that their relationship would work. I didn’t think Coalhouse would treat her like she should be treated. Nevertheless, they started dating and spending all of their spare time together. I still saw Sarah regularly, though. She told me about how great her relationship with Coalhouse was and how they were really happy.
Then, she got really withdrawn. I had no idea what she was going through. I tried to reach out to her, but she never went out to the Harlem clubs anymore. She wouldn’t answer her door when I tried to visit her. It really hurt my feelings because she felt she couldn’t open up to me. Then, I heard through the gossipy streets of Harlem that she had a child, and she was almost thrown in jail because she tried to bury it! I could not believe it. This was not the Sarah I knew.
When I found out she was staying with that uppity family in New Rochelle, I had to tell Coalhouse. He had to know what he did to her and how her life was nearly ruined because of him. I didn’t know he would try to reconnect with her. I visited Sarah a few times in New Rochelle to see the baby (what a cutie!) and again, tried to warn her about Coalhouse. But again, she didn’t listen, and the next time I saw her after a few months, she’s telling me about how her and Coalhouse are going down south in his new Model-T to see her folks, on the “wheels of a dream.” That Sarah was always a dreamer, but I never saw it happening for her.
And then that day happened. The day she died. I didn’t know until later it was because of Coalhouse and his adamancy about not marrying her. She would have never hurt the VP candidate, but after the President’s assassination, I understand their vigilance. Sarah wouldn’t hurt a fly and when I saw them beat her, I was angry and hurt at the loss of my best friend. Sarah and I grew up singing together in the choir, so at her memorial, I knew she would want me to sing for her. I wrote the song, “Til We Reach that Day,” because it truly captured how I felt as a Black women in New York. The racism is palpable, and there had to be a day, soon, where I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable in the streets of New Rochelle. After Sarah’s death and the destruction of Coalhouse’s car, none of Harlem felt safe. Everyone thought they would be next. I knew Sarah’s memorial would be the perfect place for the song. Sarah seemed to touch a lot of people and I’m glad so many, black, white, Chinese, etc. were able to come out and help with the song. For a brief moment, racial bondage was broken and we were one. Do I think it will last, no. But, I’m glad that during such a tragic moment, we made a tiny step forward. I will miss my friend dearly, but I know she is looking down, smiling at all of the progress we’ve made since her death.