The scenes that we Americans have been witnessing in multiple cities across this country, at first intermittently and lately almost regularly, have brought to mind a seriously disturbing memory. It’s a memory shared by many black Americans experientially and all Americans on some level. This haunting reality was called “lynching.”
Although the majority of black Americans think they know what racism looks like, sounds like and feels like, the truth is that their hue and cry for “justice and equality” is enough to make a rationally thinking person, black or white, writhe in frustration.
Unfortunately, there are those today who, through spurious charges, whether deliberate or misguided, allege that America has failed to fulfill its promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
Pardon a personal historical reference, but I grew up in the segregated South. I drank from “colored” water fountains, sneaked a drink from “white” fountains and made a startling discovery: The water tasted the same. I used segregated restrooms, waiting rooms, rode in the back of buses and buried my grandparents in a segregated cemetery – separated even in death.
As a child, I attended a “separate but equal” school. However, every Monday morning, we opened the sliding wooden doors, stood, and “in unison, children,” said “The Lord’s Prayer.” Then, turning to the middle of the building, “Face the flag, hands over your heart, in unison … I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” As you know, “God” was not added until 1954.
One nation “indivisible”? We didn’t know what that meant, but our standard then was, if you don’t know what something means, go to the dictionary and look it up: Indivisible: not divisible, not separable into parts. Now that may not have been the case for all Americans at the moment, but it was there, and we were taught and expected that the promised “liberty and justice for all” would someday include us, if we were prepared. So our mantra back in the day was “study, get educated, be ready and remember, America is the home of the brave.”
So, we studied, we prayed and then we stood in line, or sat at lunch counters. Led by preachers, we marched and linked arm-in-arm, “indivisible” with many whites, and we sang, “We shall overcome.”
It seems increasingly evident that many black Americans either know little to nothing of their history, or they have disqualified it as irrelevant to the “troubles I’ve seen” in their modern-day American way of life. I have written numerous columns trying to throw the light of reason and sanity on the black man’s perceived plight in America. And here I am, yet again.
There was actually a time in our history when, yes, racism was rampant and black Americans were considered less than human beings. It was a time when the most responsible, God-fearing black family could be obliterated by hatred, fear and real racism. A decent, innocent black citizen could be accused of heinous crimes and, for no reason other than color, be summarily hung from a rope – called “lynching” – on the spot, just for being black. No trial, no jury, no evidence.
Then there came a time when the conscience of America was awakened and attitudes began to shift and white men were willing to die in a horrible Civil War to expunge the hatred from our midst. These fighting men, white and black, gave up everything for this cause, and a great U.S. president died trying to right this wrong.
Slowly but surely, we progressed to becoming a country for all the people, regardless of skin color, and we began to accept one another, acknowledge one another, support one another and even love one another. We laid down our hatred and decided to live together as equal Americans. Black Americans began to experience the same blessings as all other citizens, and it seemed the evil did indeed exist no more.
Now here we are, once again facing racial hatred – in reverse. All the gains, and there have been many, are being desecrated by godless mobs who have no earthly idea of what racism really is. With their trumped-up charges against one white man after another – no trial, no jury, no evidence – while justifying it because of the color of someone’s skin, are they slowly but surely reviving the past – false accusations, violence, malevolence and even death?
Are we now witnessing a black Ku Klux Klan?