Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I have seen history my whole life

But today I saw something that the world I lived in as a child and a young man would have never accepted. I saw a black man officially nominated as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States.

I saw Martin Luther King Jr speak on TV when I was 9 and I saw his funeral when I was 10. I saw race riots erupt in cities and even got up early to watch the coverage on the news. I saw two athletes raise black gloved hands on the medal podium at the Mexico City Olympics and I thought that they should have been stripped of their medals. To me, in those times those fists were a sign of militancy and that militancy rang as violence to me. Me, as a white boy.

I saw Cassius Clay refuse to serve his country and change his name as he followed a religion completely foreign to me. I saw all white kids in my schools and in my neighborhood. I would not attend class with black kids until junior high school and then it was only one. Although I have not seen him in many years, Fred Mason and I were friends. I saw another black friend come to pick my cheerleader sister up for a party involving the cheerleaders and the football team. He was not the only one in the car, he merely got out and came to the door. Lee and I were also friends. But I saw the anger of my father when he found out a black student had come to pick up his daughter.

The world was very different then and I didn't seriously question any of it. I was just growing up. I watched the Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island and The Jetsons. Then a man, a TV producer named Norman Leer did something that, in my mind, started mass change of thought. He introduced us to Archie Bunker and his son-in-law Michael Stivik. It was groundbreaking TV and millions watched. We all laughed but the subtle change began enmass. Then he introduced us to a hard working inner city family named the Evans and while we were all laughing at "DY NO MITE" we were also being educated as to what a black family thinks and how they deal with adversity.

Meanwhile men like Jesse Jackson and women like Shirley Chisholm were working for justice and change where others had left off. Because of the work of Martin Luther King Jr and others, barriers that held blacks back were lifted. I remember hearing about a buch of "firsts". The first black Supreme Court Justice. The first woman Supreme Court Justice. The first black congresswoman. The first black Mayor and Governor. The first woman...

Now I am 50 and the old guard is dying off. The old who didn't see a problem with segregating black and white school children, black and white soldiers, black and white athletes.

The bible talks about a time to sow and a time to reap. King and Parks and Abernathy and X and other were the sowers and those who followed them tended the garden and saw that it got the water that it needed. In these last two decades a harvest has been going on and now many of us are working in the garden together and we have gotten to the point where one of the last "firsts" is at hand.

It's time.

I hope that as my time passes I will remember all the history that was made in my life time.
You're writings will definatly be a reminder.
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