In lieu of talking about the current political scene, I am going to try to make the logo above one of the central topics here at RJsCorner for the coming months. I know I frequently announce these types of projects and then don’t carry them through, but this one is kind of like an epiphany for me. I don’t think there is going to be one way to break the “Us vs Them” tragedy; it will take millions of voices singing the same tune to make that happen. I want to be one of those voices…
I haven’t thoroughly thought out a particular strategy for my contribution but being a history buff I know we need to find where we have been before we can figure out where we are going. So, I will start out here with studying the biggest examples and then search for a possible solution.
Going from there will likely be how each of us can contribute to putting the current “Us vs Them” episode into the past. I know this is a noble goal, especially at this late stage of my life but I want to be one of those millions who contribute, so why not.
To finish this first post I want to talk a little about the featured photo of this post which is also included in the banner that will be on each post on this subject. It was a large illuminated panel shown here which is at the “Brown vs Board of Education” national site in Topeka Kansas. The building is not a large one but contains many artifacts that will make you think about racial prejudice and particularly the Civil Rights era. Many of you probably recognize the picture as Birmingham Alabama forced school integration. On September 10th, in 1963, twenty black students entered previously all-white public schools in Birmingham they were protected by National Guard soldiers. As I was going through the rooms I suddenly came upon on this large picture and the hate that filled the young white woman’s eyes literally shook me to my bones. I have never seen hate personified as I did in the large photo. Every time I see the photo I wonder if that young girl ever got over the hatred she had? If she didn’t it probably consumed her as it did so many southern bigots of those time.
Now a story about my personal experiences with racial prejudice in the Southern States in the 1960s and 70s. I was a young engineer in 1972 when I was sent to a Shreveport Louisana factory to assist in solving a manufacturing problem. It was there that I met Mel. He was a “good ole boy” that all the engineers loved to hear his stories. When we went to the cafeteria for a coffee break he proceeded to tell his dehumanizing story about lazy black niggers. I was totally embarrassed by his words and even more embarrassing was that the told in within hearing distance of scores of African-Americans sitting in the dining room. That fact didn’t bother him at all, in fact, it probably excited him. This was my first real exposure to racial prejudice and it stuck with me throughout my life. I think throughout this series we will come to find that turning your enemy into something inhuman is an essential part of this ugly process.
For anyone who cares to read the inscription on the panel click on the photo below to see a readable view: