Philadelphia – President-elect Barack Obama,
cheered by onlookers along the train route Abraham Lincoln took on his journey from Illinois to Washington nearly a century and a half earlier.
Saturday, January 17, 2009.
(Photo: Reuters)Jim Crow laws.
If you are not old enough to have lived during the last years of the 1950s and the early years of the 1960s, then the best you can do is read about the vestige of segregation. You can not really “feel” how abhorrent it was to live through a shameful part of our Country’s history when citizens of color were ridiculed, scorned, and thought of as faceless second class citizens.
To the “youngsters” think of this:
1. I graduated from Ramsay High School in 1960. I never had a black class mate or team mate. It was UNLAWFUL for whites and blacks to learn together, to eat together, to watch a movie together, or to enter the same rest room together. All public association of the races was a violation of the law. If a black person and a white person were sitting next to each other on a bus, they were arrested.
2. Until 1964, it was unlawful in the segregated South for blacks and whites to athletically compete on the field or in the gym. Not only were there black only schools and white only schools, but the students at their these schools were denied the right to play sports against athletes of a different race. There was the deep rooted feeling that mixing the races would soil Caucasians.
3. Public association between Negroes and Caucasians in the Deep South was unlawful. White politicians were elected to office by shouting “segregation now and segregation forever!” A politician could not be elected to office unless on the record he denigrated the Negro, and decried the notion of justice for all. A candidate was required to enforce the idea that association between the races was evil, and against God’s Law!
Think, the above social environment was less than fifty years ago. Can a young person fathom that blacks and whites could do not associate unless in hiding or in the privacy of a home?
When I remember the past, see the present, and think of the future, I truly appreciate the concept of an America that will provide opportunity, fairness, and justice for all Her Citizens. I pray for a Nation that truly abides by Dr. King’s words that he looked to a day when a person is judged not by the color of his skin, but the content of his character.
The 44th Inauguration is making so many people proud, excited, happy, and fulfilled. I join in their sentiments. Hopefully, the best is yet to come! That is why my soul is stirred with exhilaration!”
Mr. Bayer is a cousin of this writer.