I am proud of our country and our new president
I grew up in the segregated South of Florida in the 50’s. I was bussed past a rundown “separate but equal” black school to my white elementary school. My parents were liberals appalled at the barbaric racism all around us.
I am proud that my family has a tradition of Civil Rights activism. I wish my Dad was alive tonight to see Barack Obama win the presidency. I am glad my Mom is here to see it.
My parents passed down their activist bug to us kids. My sisters and brother all volunteered for Obama.
Here is a story about my Dad and Civil Rights from my words at his funeral. I call it “Fishing and Justice”:
“Dad was very tolerant of my love for fishing. He disliked pretty much everything about it – the worms, the waiting, the fish. But out of love, out of duty, once or twice a year he would load me and my gear in the car, find a lake and indulge his son’s perverse angling passion.
The first fishing trip I remember happened in my third or fourth grade, around 1960, Tallahassee, Florida. We went to a city lake set in a small park surrounded by working class houses. I am pretty sure it was just the two of us. I don’t remember whether I had a single nibble or caught a fish.
What I do remember is two black children, boys about my age fishing just down the shore from us. A police car stopped and the officer got out of the car and talked to the black kids. They were far enough away from us that we didn’t hear the conversation. As the officer returned to his car the kids began to pack up their fishing gear.
Dad said, “Let’s go talk to them”, and I put down my pole and followed him. Although he knew the answer he asked them what the policeman had said.
“This lake is for white folk”, the older said, not looking at Dad, continuing to pack.
“That’s not right. Stay here and fish. You can fish with us.” Dad was angry.
The boys gathered their last things up as Dad tried to convince them to stay. They walked away from the lake leaving Dad outraged and leaving me with a memory I am so proud to remember and to share.
What a superb example to give me. Dad saw an intolerable injustice and he didn’t look the other way. He went right at it and did all he could to set it right. It was exactly like him to be naive about what it was possible to accomplish, what it was possible for two small black children to do in Tallahassee in 1960; he did his best to instigate an act of civil disobedience. It was the law that the lake was for whites only, the law was evil, therefore he had to encourage others to break that law.
Dad and Mom were very active in the civil rights struggle along with the UU churches we attended growing up in the south and Washington, D.C. He took me to civil rights marches as soon as I was old enough. I remember marching with him to mourn the little girls blown up in the black church. He attended the March on Washington and heard Martin Luther King give his I have a Dream speech.”
I can’t wait to see the Obamas in the White House but more than that I can’t wait to see the man govern. I admire his mind and his heart as expressed in his books. His conduct of the campaign was admirable and his temperament is just what I want in a President – calm and focused.
I am hopeful for America and for our world.