April 5, 2017 2018 Letter to the Jim Crow Museum
I was born in 1953 and raised in a very conservative farm town in west-central Ohio. There was no "obvious" segregation, but it was there; even in the late 60s, when one of our white cheerleaders came to school with a black eye and a bruise on her face because her father had beat her for going out with one of the black basketball players. My father called Brazil Nuts "nigger toes," and I remember a salt & pepper shaker set in the figure of Aunt Jemima.
I was too young to be part of the Civil Rights movement but I remember very clearly those two days in 1968 when, first, Marin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and then, only a bit more than two months later, Robert Kennedy. But we believed that we were the generation that would change this; we were the generation of peace and love.
And now, here we are. My generation is out there voting for Trump. Police shoot black people who are walking toward them with their pants down. White supremacists have crawled out of their swamps and are relishing their new found power. Brown people are painted with the broad brush of being lesser human beings. Well, I could go on, but you certainly know all too well.
I hope that this article helps your work to go out broadly. We need to be reminded that we are no better, nay, perhaps worse, than when Wallace uttered those horrific words, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." I assure you, I will pass it on to many of my friends and colleagues.
Thank you for reminding us of who we are and, maybe, who we could become.