Monday, January 17, 2011

Civil Rights and the South

I'm writing the chapter now about the 1960's at Pilot Mountain School. It is as full of challenges for me as a writer as it was for the teachers and parents who lived it. I lived it, too, in my high school and college years, surrounded by the southern viewpoint and unaware, or uncaring, of injustices.

Today I want to reflect. I've searched the newspaper accounts of the civil rights movement and desegregation, read about students being threatened and bullied and spat upon. I never witnessed it personally. The students of that era that I am interviewing didn't either.

We had been raised in a cocoon, a white cocoon, separated from other races. If we attended the same movies, we entered different doors, sat in different sections. If we were thirsty we drank from water fountains labeled "white" or "colored." If we wanted to swim in the same public swimming pool in town...well, that just didn't happen.

What were we thinking? I know what, and I cringe when I remember the comments I heard as we sat around the cafeteria tables in 1964. I apologize for not holding my hand up and saying "Stop."

Thank you Martin Luther King, Jr. for your relentless drive to bring change simply because it was right. And thank you Maya Angelou for speaking the words for me: It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, 'well, if I'd known better I'd have done better,' that's all.

Catch of the day,



  1. Good post. ANd hindsight is always different than we go through something the first time. I may need to interview you at some time...way off in the future if my idea for a sequel for my WIP ever bears fruit!

  2. Amen, Sister! "If I'd known better..."