My mother, Sodonia Luckie, arrived in New York City with her three children Cecil Jr., Robert, and L’Tanya in 1954. Years before, they’d lived on March Field Air Force Base in Riverside, California with her husband Cecil, an Air Force sergeant. In 1950, Sodonia’s husband was assigned to a base in French Morocco where she and her children would live for several years. After moving there, Sodonia’s husband became increasingly abusive to her and developed a reputation as a womanizer. Sodonia made many attempts to flee. In the summer of 1954, Sodonia planned her final attempt at escaping. She had become more familiar with his schedule and decided to wait late in the evening. He’d begun getting late-night assignments on the base and would spend the remainder of the evening womanizing on the streets of Casablanca. On the night of her planned escape she had Cecil Jr., Robert, and L’Tanya get fully dressed as if they were going out.
“You want us to wear our outside clothes to bed, Ma?” Cecil Jr. asked.
“Yes, Cecil. I want you, Robert, and L’tanya to put on your clothes tonight and get under the covers,” she whispered. All three children lay under the covers fully dressed, with shoes on their feet. Sodonia wore her clothes under a nightgown she’d often wear to bed.
Her husband left the house at midnight. Shortly after he departed, she got her children out of bed. She grabbed the Samsonite suitcase, which she had packed the night before, from under their bed. She and her children went to the base and met with a senior officer. “My husband has been abusive to me. Me and my children are leaving!”