We may take no pride in the early history of our country that brought about the gross abuse and degradation of a race.
Eloquent men have failed in their attempts to offer apologies. There are no words to soothe.
Thomas Jefferson opposed the system but he was a man trapped in time. His best effort was kind and fair treatment of those in his charge.
The eighteen sixties saw the beginning of realistic changes wrought in great part by the man who now belongs to the Ages.
Our debt to him will endure though he neither asked nor expected payment.
Nineteen thirty three brought us Eleanor Roosevelt, A Grand and eloquent lady, a champion of civil rights and equality. She helped persuade FDR to establish Black airman training school at Tuskegee Ala. The 332nd was the only escort group that never lost a bomber. (That claim lived for years but was later denied. The 332nd lost 25 bombers.)
Next came Harry Truman. When I joined the U S Army July 29 1949 it was still segregated, even though President Truman had ordered desegregation in 1948. It was done early in his first elected term. (1949 - 1953.) The first black soldiers joined our 1st Calvary unit in Seoul South Korea Sept. 1950. [ we ordered winter gear, the answer came back not needed, troops will be stateside before snow flies.] I kept remembering this when it was -40 degrees and lower.
The beginning of the end of school segregation came during Eisenhower’s First term and he was quick to use the military to keep the peace threatened by the likes of George Wallace, Bull Connor and many others. September 1960 I was visiting friends in New Orleans La. driving a car with Alabama plates when I came upon an area of heavy traffic and a road block. When I asked what’s going on here? The officer smirked and said, The ------ are trying to go to a white school. The new students were the children of Louie Armstrong, another courageous man of vision. The dream was much older than the dreamer who etched the words into history and into the hearts all who yearn to share the dream.
Dr. King was the key that opened the heart and minds of the masses opposed to the changes he dreamed of.
His story is well known and deserves better than I can tell.
As we proceed in this twenty first century it will bring many changes, Good for some, scorned by a few, better for all.
OldAxe, Thonotosassa Fl 3/25/2010