Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lets follow this example

African American Congressman John Lewis of Atlanta recently met with the White man, Elwin Wilson, who attacked him in 1961 during a protest when Lewis was a young civil rights leader. The confrontation took place at a bus station in South Carolina. Wilson apologized and he and Lewis embraced. Lewis said Wilson was the first person involved in attacks against him during that turbulent time to apologize and he offered forgiveness without hesitation.

I thought this was worthy of mentioning because I grew up in North Carolina during the sit-ins at places like Woolworth's 5 & 10. I also remember the hot waiting rooms for "Colored people" in bus and train stations (no fans), colored signs over water fountains (water was not cold if it worked at all), bathrooms, etc. And the entrance to the movie theater that was on a side street, around the corner from the main street white entrance, that lead to a small balcony. I was quite aware of racism as I grew up in the south and in New York. I had to remember which part of the country I was in and make the adjustment. Up north, I sat wherever I wanted on the bus; below Washington, DC, I sat in the back. In a store that serviced white and Black patrons, I had to wait until the white person was waited on first though I may have been first at the counter. I decided to leave NC after completing the 9th grade because I knew my New York state of mind would get me hung.

I am happy that this reconciliation occurred and hope others of all races follow suit.

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