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Tag Archives: Martin Luther King Day

ONCE UPON A TIME: LOVE TRUMPED A S**THOLE COUNTRY

A MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY MEDITATION

This is the second time I have re-purposed a post I wrote a few years ago for the Anniversary of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  The humanity, sacrifice, and love celebrated in this post really stuck with me, and I have rewritten and updated it with new cartoons (yet again) in the hopes that the subject matter will strike a deep chord within all our hearts to give us courage and hope.  Let us remember the 50th anniversary of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the circumstances of his gone-too-soon life, and why the sacrifice of his life was meant for the good of us all—no matter what our race, creed, color, or religion.

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Do you know what I discovered as I meditated on Dr. King’s contribution to the United States?  Trump and his die-hard minions kept overshadowing Dr. King’s message in my head.  In my meditation time, I tried to conjure up Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but couldn’t stop hearing Donald Trump’s racist fog horn blaring his latest misanthropic screed about not wanting people from “shithole countries” to come to America.

Refugee Types Rick McKee The Augusta Chronicle

Cartoon used by permission:  Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

Every person with half a heart and half a brain is labeling Trump’s latest vocal excrement as that of a hardcore racist.  His supporters are crying foul and declaring that America is post-racial.  After all, didn’t we just have two terms of a Black President, which is why Trump had to become President to “fix” all the mess that Kenyan made?

Let’s see:  Trump doesn’t want people from brown countries to come to America, but would love more people from places like Norway—the whitest country on Earth.  Hum…if Trump talks like a racist, acts like a racist, then he is a racist!  Believe me.

First of all, there is no such thing as a “post-racial America.”  If anything, the racism that had been buried for years erupted to the surface when Barack Obama became our President.  He was the fulfillment of a dream for Martin Luther King but a freakin’ nightmare for those who are horrified over the browning of America.

Unfortunately, a lot of people who claimed to be Christians got caught up in that net under the very thin guise of cultural politics.  I watched White people I once knew and loved from the 70s—who said they loved me—go to bed one night reminiscing about our Hippie commune days where we spouted Evangelical Christian philosophies of love and tolerance, and wake up on the morning of the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2008 spouting racism, fear, and hatred.  (Of course, they denied it:  It wasn’t because he was Black.  It was because Obama was the anti-Christ—didn’t I remember the Bible scriptures that foretold his ascendance?)   It’s as if I never knew these people—never broke bread with them—never shared the vision of seeking the grace of God toward all men and women with them.)  I watched their eye balls rolling, their mouths frothing, and their heads spinning on their necks in anger at the thought of the White House turning Black.   (They would deny this with a vengeance—say that it was about abortion, the war on Christmas and being able to say “Merry Christmas,” but if it talks like a racist, acts like a racist…it will elect a racist when given a chance to do so.)

White Christians Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

Cartoon used by permission:  Pat Bagley, Salt Lake-Tribune

I tried to calmly, but urgently, address the racism, xenophobia, and homophobia snuffing out the love of Jesus from the hearts of my now ex-White Christian friends (influence who you know), but it only made them more fanatical.  It is as if they forgot the history of the Jim Crow era and were doomed to repeat it.  As I watched their President (#HELLTOTHENO—NOTMYPRESIDENT) so capriciously try and rescind the lawful rights of refugee Haitians, Salvadorians, and 800,000 “dreamers,” I was bordering on despair until I meditated one morning on our civil rights history.  I remembered that there have always been angry White people and cruel American legislators, but there were also those righteous White Americans who fought alongside Black Americans to bring about Martin Luther King’s dream.  In most cases, they lost their lives doing so.  I especially remembered James Zwerg who lived to tell his story and should be seventy-seven-years old by now.

James Zwerg

James Zwerg in 1961 after being beaten by a racist mob in Montgomery, Alabama during a Freedom Ride/Courtesy of Wikipedia

James Zwerg was the White college student from Wisconsin who’d been raised in a really tight-knit Christian family, and he eventually became a Freedom Rider (civil rights activists who rode interstate buses to force the South to obey Federal Law banning segregation on public transportation).  He became a Freedom Rider after seeing his black roommate treated with contempt at Beloit College in Wisconsin.  James volunteered to be an exchange student to an all-black college in the South (Fisk University) for a semester so he could get a taste of what it felt like to be a minority.

When James went to Fisk he made a decision to join the Freedom Riders from Nashville to Alabama.   James said the morning they set off, he read Psalm 27 over and over again as he prayed that God would give him courage and forgiveness for his attackers.  He prayed that the Lord would keep him from striking back if and when he got attacked by the white racist mobs, who considered white Freedom Riders as traitors and deserving of death.  The first line of the Psalm he read was, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” and the final line that James read was, “Though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will receive me.”

James was severely beaten along with the other freedom riders (including John Lewis who survived to become one of our most venerable congressmen) by the racists who stopped their bus. When the picture of James’ pulverized body appeared in the local newspaper, his parents never forgave him because they felt, as James’ father so articulately stated: “Those damn niggers used you.”

FB Jeff Koterba Omaha World Herald NE

Cartoon used by permission:  Jeff Koterba, Omaha World Herald, NE

I remember reading that the parents’ relationship with James Zwerg was never restored even when he tried to explain that he was simply living Christ’s love as they had taught him to do.  He was beaten so badly that his teeth were shattered, his vertebrae were broken, he suffered from PTSD, he drowned his sorrows in alcohol for a season, he tried to commit suicide at least once, and he ended up in therapy for months.  As I meditated on the sacrifice that Pastor Zwerg made for me and mine, I momentarily forgot the hatefulness of some of the White people I have known in my life as the scripture rang through my head:  “Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his brother!”

Then the roll call of other White Americans who stood brave and tall with all the African-Americans against the racist order of the day came to mind, and I sat for a moment of silence to thank them for laying down their lives so my children and grandchildren might live Dr. King’s dream:

Viola Fauver Gregg Liuzzo, ethnicity:  white Viola was a mother of three children from Detroit and was murdered by Ku Klux Klan members after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama.  The last words she said to her husband were that the civil rights struggle: “was everybody’s fight.” (Wikipedia)

Michael Henry Schwerner, ethnicity:  Jewish.  Michael was one of three Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) field workers killed in Philadelphia, Mississippi, by the Ku Klux Klan in response to their civil rights work. (Wikipedia)

Andrew Goodman, ethnicity:  Jewish.  Andrew was one of three American civil rights activists murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi, during Freedom Summer in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan. (Wikipedia)

Paul Guihard, ethnicity:  white.  Paul was a reporter for a French news service and was killed by gunfire from a white mob during protests over the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

William Lewis Moore, ethnicity:  white William was a postman from Baltimore, and he was shot and killed during a one-man march against segregation. Moore had planned to deliver a letter to the governor of Mississippi urging an end to intolerance. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

Rev. Bruce Klunder, ethnicity:  white.  Rev. Klunder was among civil rights activists who protested the building of a segregated school in Cleveland, Ohio by placing their bodies in the way of construction equipment. Klunder was crushed to death when a bulldozer backed over him. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

Rev. James Reeb, ethnicity:  white.  Rev. Reeb was a Unitarian minister from Boston, and was among many white clergymen who joined the Selma marchers after the attack by state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Reeb was beaten to death by white men while he walked down a Selma street. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

Jonathan Myrick Daniels, ethnicity:  white.  Jonathan was an Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, and he had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, ethnicity:  white.  Vernon was a wealthy businessman who offered to pay poll taxes for those who couldn’t afford the fee required to vote. The night after a radio station broadcast Dahmer’s offer, his home was firebombed. Dahmer died later from severe burns. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

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After all was remembered and gratefully acknowledged, I got up off my knees and turned to face the new day with peace in my heart, knowing that the hatred I see in 2018 will not win the day because there will always be people of all ethnicities who have courage enough to fight for the freedom needed so that everyone, of every color, creed, and gender, can live the dream.

Gone too soon Dave Granlund Politicalcartoons com

Cartoon used by permission:  Dave Granlund, Politicalcartoons.com

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ELEANOR’S “SELAH” (AHA!) MOMENT—

ABOUT BEING FROM A “SHITHOLE” COUNTRY

I am discovering that once upon a time, I lived in a “shithole” country—the United States of America.  It didn’t mean that I didn’t love my country, but it did mean that my “shitty” country didn’t treat my peeps and me very well until Dr. King and so many, many others sacrificed their lives to make our government do the right thing.  If we don’t want the USA to regress into that “shitty” place again—if we want it to continue the journey and complete Dr. King’s vision—“we the people” have an ongoing, ever-vigilant job to embrace Dr. King’s dream afresh.

There will always be those who will try to turn our great country into a cesspool of hate and divisiveness—including our current President.  But for those of us who are “woke,” all we need to do is lock arms with the other “woke” folks and fight the good fight for the rights of our fellow man until the new dawn is upon us.

Let’s make 2018 the year that Dr. King’s dream produces more heroes like James Zwerg, Congressman John Lewis, the nine men and women cited above, and countless others to further fulfill our destiny as a country—maybe it will be you.

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

What are you doing for others

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES

“James Zwerg remains a devoted loving Christian to this day and what is most important to him is love. ‘I think the thing I would add is love is still the most powerful force in the universe. Hatred will never beat it. Violence will never beat it.’“—Wikipedia

“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.”Helen Keller

“The function of freedom is to free someone else.”Toni Morrison

“And yet words on a parchment [the Constitution—parenthesis mine] would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part — through protests and struggles, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience, and always at great risk — to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.”President Barack Obama

EXCEPT WHERE NOTED, ALL INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES ARE FROM http://www.brainyquotes.com

MLK III

THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOK:  “The Fetus Chronicles:  Podcasts From my Miseducated Self” is on sale now at Amazon!

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out her website at www.eleanortomczyk.com 

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 REFERENCES

https://blogs.lawrence.edu/news/2015/06/lawrence-awarding-honorary-degree-to-civil-rights-freedom-rider-james-zwerg.html

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/05/16/Zwerg.freedom.rides/index.html

https://www.beloit.edu/archives/documents/archival_documents/james_zwerg_freedom_ride/

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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MARTIN, MY MAIN MAN

Do you know what I discovered this week? I would love to chat with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and let him know that I am one black woman in America who has been living the dream for quite some time now. So much so, that the only problems I have are white people problems, which is amazing given the background I’ve come from. In my memoir, Monsters’ Throwdown, I vividly described living through the Jim Crow era as a poor black child, and it was a bitch! It’s a good thing Dr. King came along when he did or I would have been burnt toast. I’ll tell you now, I was not cut out to suffer. Let’s just say, I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor—rich is a hell of a lot better.

Since I can’t see Dr. King face-to-face at this point, maybe I’ll write him a letter. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’ll bring him up to date as to what’s happening in my life and the general state of affairs on the Earth vis-à-vis his legacy.

Massage Appointment

The main problem I had this month—E. Tomczyk

Dear Dr. King:

Hope all is well. But of course it is, because compared to Earth, I am sure Heaven is a walk in the park. Did you just flip when Mahalia Jackson sang her way into Glory shortly after you did in 1972 and when Maya Angelou strutted her stuff through the pearly gates this past year? I can almost hear the three of you civil rights icons harmonizing on “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” And what was the look on Strom Thurmond’s face in 2003—that old humorless racist from South Carolina—when he saw you laughing it up with Jesus, et al? Did that staunch segregationist tell you that he had a secret bi-racial daughter that he fathered with a sixteen-year-old maid in his house when he was twenty-two-years-old? (Nowadays they’d call that statutory rape.) Of course, it must have been so exhilarating to see your wife, Coretta, again in 2006. She did a great job in carrying the torch once you’d gone, Martin. You would have been pleased at how she preserved your legacy. (Now your kids, they are a horse of a different color, but I’ll tell you more about them later.)

MLK I Nate Beeler The Columbus Dispatch

Cartoon used by permission: Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

Dr. King, I have been living the dream! First of all, I got a great education—it wasn’t easy—but I worked my ass off to get my degree. I was one of the first to go to college in my neighborhood. I did well, too—even made the Dean’s List a time or two. Then I met this adorable man who turned out to be a white man. Can you believe it? As you know, the Supreme Court didn’t strike down the miscegenation laws until 1967 with the Loving v. Virginia case, but we didn’t meet until 1972. We were pretty much free from any bigotry against our marriage (unless you count my mother-in-law) as long as we stayed out of South Carolina and Alabama, which still kept their miscegenation laws on the books until 1998 and 2000 respectively. There was still a Justice of the Peace in Robert, Louisiana as late as 2009 who refused to marry an interracial couple, but I never had much account for Louisiana and pretty much avoided that state like the plague.

Anyway, I got myself a darling white man. He’s a keeper! You’d be pleased, Martin—he’s so kind. He’s my best friend. I’m sure interracial marriages hadn’t even crossed your mind when you said “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.” And do you know what we do—this milky-white man and I—to celebrate your birthday? We spend the entire weekend in places that would have, at best, dragged us out by our hair, and at worst, lynched us from a “poplar tree as strange fruit” for breaking the miscegenation laws in years gone by.

I know our first black President says we should spend your holiday weekend in service to others, but I do that all year round anyway. I get way too much pleasure from these traveling adventures to set them aside. This year WW (White and Wonderful) and I plan to go to an antebellum resort that was started in 1778. It has been the vacation site of presidents, judges, lawyers, politicians, and at least one princess. You should see me when I roll up to these places. I’m always dressed to the nines, dripping with jewels (tastefully, of course), and as my husband hands the valet the keys to our car, he extends his arm to me and I loop my arm in his as we stroll confidently and with grace through the front door to the check-in desk. Then I take a deep breath and wait for the line that is always music to my ears: “Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Tomczyk. It is a pleasure to have you as our guests!”

MLK Obama 2nd term Christopher Weyant The Hill

Cartoon used by permission: Christopher Weyant, The Hill

Life has definitely improved since you left us, Martin. More minorities are educated with good jobs, great homes, and doing well. We can eat where we want, live where we want, and vote for whom we want. Our first black President was elected for a second term (nobody saw that coming), and although he has his haters by the truck load, I think he’s going to end his presidency just fine, and history will treat him kindly. Unless you’re watching Fox News and their right-wing bedfellows, the entire world has seen his grace under fire, his self-control, his uber-intelligence, and his compassionate heart. We just have to keep him alive to finish the job. (You know what I’m sayin’.)

Now, I’m not going to lie to you—even with our first black President we still have many, many issues to deal with, and some of them might end up derailing all your hard work and sacrifice. One of them is that our black children seem to either not understand the depth of your sacrifice (and others) or they have been raised in such affluence they don’t see the potential dangers that they could still encounter. Granted it was years ago, but one of my kids announced to me that there was no more racism—her generation didn’t see color (she does have an amazing gaggle of multi-cultural friends). Of course she is the color of vanilla cream, so half the time, people just assume she’s white. She didn’t change her tune until a stranger in an airport bar recently mistook her for being white and jokingly made good-old-boy cracks about how much he was sure they’d both enjoy seeing the President assassinated, as if this was a first-line agenda item on every white person’s list. Sigh!

MLK Meaning to Young David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

Other black children have given up on your dream, Dr. King because of the ravages caused by income inequality: eroding public schools, the new slavery (one in ten black men in prison—more in prison than enslaved in 1850), absentee fathers (cause they’re mostly in prison!), joblessness, homelessness, black-on-black crime, police brutality . . . black folks hardly vote anymore because they are so disheartened. We’re losing our youth to drugs, murder, and mayhem, Martin. The black middle-class is melting away and most of our black families are ending up in the 99% of the have-nots because the richest 1% now control 48.2% of the global wealth. How can any of the poor compete with that, no matter what their race?

MLK 1 percent Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

Cartoon used by permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

But the fear that keeps me awake at night is the resurgence of widespread racism. Dr. King the world has gone nuts since you’ve been gone. Religious extremists are bombing here, there, and everywhere. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe—it’s as if all of Europe has collective amnesia. In America there are “angry white men” who have taken up residence in the Tea Party and white supremacy groups because they are convinced that your legacy has made them victims of reverse discrimination. It’s as if they are trying to turn back the clock for minorities, women, and the gay and lesbian population to the 1950s. It’s just crazy-go-bananas in our legislative branches and in the marketplace. Sometimes it makes me want to stand up and holler.

MLK II Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

Cartoon used by permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

Well, that is the gist of it Dr. King. I could rattle on for days. Pray for us in the hour of our need. The jury is still out as to whether we can continue to live the dream that you so valiantly gave your life for. I’m getting up there in age, so I won’t have to deal with this disillusionment much longer. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you sooner than later. Take care, my hero.

Je t’adore, Eleanor

P.S. LATEST CHIT-CHAT: Bill Cosby assassinated Dr. Huxtable and broke millions of hearts; we have a popular TV show where a white president of the United States is having an affair with a kick-ass black woman who is a miracle worker; we have another popular TV show where the protagonist is teaching everyone how to get away with murder; and we have a brand new hot TV soap opera where the cast is 99% black and they are all rich hip-hop moguls (all three shows written by black folks). Dr. Ben Carson, who used to be arguably the best neurosurgeon in the country has lost his freakin’ mind and become a Tea Party darling and wants to run for president. Your grown-ass kids are a HUGE embarrassment (sorry to be the one to break the news)! Dexter and Martin III are trying to oust Bernice as CEO of King Center, and Bernice is counter-suing because the brothers tried to sell your 1964 Nobel Peace Prize (oh, hell to the no!) and your Bible you took with you to prison that Barack Obama swore his inaugural oath on. One of your kids is suing your old friend Andrew Young for intellectual property that he says you and Coretta gave him, and the King kids made DC pay them a butt-load of money ($800,000 I think) to erect a long-awaited statue of you. Also, I heard your Center has fallen into disrepair—algae is growing in the pond which is cracked, and the place is looking real ghetto-like. Looks like your kids aren’t living the dream, either (judging by their character, and all). Kids! What you gonna do?

Live Together as Brothers

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

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QUOTES COURTESY OF www.brainyquote.com

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REFERENCES

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/clarence-b-jones/remembering-martin-luther-king-jr_b_6471172.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andre-shashaty/mlks-birthday-hitting-us-where-we-live_b_6465862.html

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2015/01/14/empire_episode_the_outspoken_king_features_a_bizarre_scene_about_president.html

http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2015/01/a_timeline_of_the_ongoing_legal_fights_among_mlk_s_surviving_children.2.html

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
21 Comments

Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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A Different Set of Rules

Do you know what I’ve discovered?   If I spent every day visiting all the places that I couldn’t enter before the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (I was born in 1948), except through the back door as a maid or a slave, I’d probably never die—at least not anytime soon.  That is why I engage in a project surrounding Martin Luther King Holiday weekend that brings me great joy.

Not only do I sashay my black ass (dripping with bling) through the front door of a former slave-owning or white’s only establishment at least once a year, but I stay in the best room they have to offer, order room service for breakfast, and get an 80-minute massage if they offer it.  Since MLK weekend coincides with my husband’s (WW—“White and Wonderful”) birthday, I walk through the front door of those former plantations with my arm wrapped around my white husband’s arm, a big smile on my face, and give a silent middle finger to the racists ghosts who surely must roam the halls of said establishments.  Because there is no way any god worth his salt would ever allow those unrepentant slave owners entrance into Heaven (are you hearing me Thomas Jefferson?), I am convinced their Hell must be tailor-made to watch an African-American making herself at home with sheer abandonment in their “whites only” environment.

I call this bitch slap to the haunted the FYRS-LWITBR Project, which stands for “FUCK YOU RACIST SPECTERS—LIVING WELL IS THE BEST REVENGE!”  My “in your face” rebel cry has nothing to do with the current owners (I do not visit the sins of their ancestors upon them so long as they treat me with dignity and respect), but I do take on the racist ghosts of their lineage.

Oak Alley Plantation oakalleyplantation dot com

Oak Alley Plantation on the Mississippi River in Louisiana |Trip Advisor Image

In the interest of full disclosure, my children think I’m crazy.  That’s because I’ve raised them to be color blind, and to my knowledge they have never suffered at the hands of racists, which makes me very happy.   Their friends are color blind (black, white, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Straight, Gay), as well, and have formed little urban families around each other to unite against the hardships and vagaries of life.   I am very proud of them, and I consider them all “my children.”

But my children and their friends have not seen what I’ve seen or experienced the hatred I’ve embodied.  They have never heard of The Negro Motorist Green Book which was in full swing the year I was born and lasted until after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and they have never had to plan their travel around such a book just to keep from having their asses kicked (or killed) by men in white robes and pointy hats carrying burning crosses.

The Green Book was started by Victor Hugo Green (a Harlem mail carrier) in the 1930s and it would eventually cover lodging, eateries, and stores in every state in the USA as well as Bermuda, Mexico, and Canada that would do business with Negroes.    If there were no hotels that would cater to African-Americans (often the case), the book would list “tourist homes” that would rent the traveler a room or two for their journey.  The Green Book spoke volumes by “omission,” as the writer Justin Hyde has noted.   In 1949, no restaurant was listed in Alabama that would serve black people.  Justin Hyde in his article on The Green Book in Jalopnik underscored the fact that “Black motorists in those eras frequently kept extra fuel, food and portable toilets on hand to avoid stopping in unfriendly locations. Even outside the South, roadside motels and diners often wouldn’t serve black customers.”  In 1963 (one year before The Green Book was taken out of circulation), I was kicked out of a New Jersey hotel in the middle of the night along with a family (a lawyer and school teacher and their two young children) that I was the babysitter for, and we were forced to drive through the night to our approved “Negro cabin” in Maine.

87.135.1736Scanned by Stephanie Chontos, May 24, 2004For AALS Project.

Image from Wikipedia

INTRODUCTION PAGE OF THE NEGRO TOURIST GUIDE:   “There will be a day sometime in the near future when this guide will not have to be published. That is when we as a race will have equal opportunities and privileges in the United States. It will be a great day for us to suspend this publication for then we can go wherever we please, and without embarrassment. But until that time comes we shall continue to publish this information for your convenience each year.”

The fact that President Obama’s 2nd inauguration (talk about “living well is the best revenge!”) fell on the same day as the MLK holiday weekend and coincided with my husband’s b-day gave me the perfect excuse to engage in my “project” (not at the plantation above used only as an example, but at another glorious location in the South and situated on the Gulf of Mexico).

barack obama mlk FP

President Obama and Martin Luther King |image from thedvrfiles.com

As I stretched out on the beautiful “sugar sand” of a site where there once stood a private mansion that I could have only entered the back door of to make the beds and empty the slop pans, I meditated for hours on how far we had come as a Nation since the publication of The Green Book.   I watched the inauguration of our  magnificent 44th president from my waterfront suite as I lifted a glass of champagne to the triumph of a man that we are lucky to have as a leader.  As I contemplated my own American journey, I joined President Obama in spirit to pray for the further emancipation of our Hispanic brothers and sisters, our Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters, and the disenfranchised jobless families in our midst who need a helping hand.

Segregated Drinking Fountains pattyhume dot com

Archival image from pattyhume.com

I am discovering, however, that even though we are in more “tolerant times,” one must be ever vigilant against the spirit of bigotry—especially amongst the religious—or we will be doomed to repeat our history.  Martin Luther King often preached about the complacency of white Christians toward the suffering of those who did not fit their cultural narrow-minded viewpoint (specifically the Southern Baptists).    I have read many of the multitudinous sermons preached by well-intentioned pastors in favor of slavery in the 1800s and then again against desegregation in the 60s and their arrogance and cold-heartedness grip my heart with horror.  Where would we be as a country if righteousness had not won the day?

Today it boggles my mind that Christians who say they love Jesus are part of the Tea Party, but they don’t speak out against the racism that is so visible on their websites and from the mouths of their leaders.  I know that not all Tea Party members are racist but their silence is killing me.  The language of the Tea Partier is slightly different from the overt racist (normally doesn’t include the “n” word), but it is deceiving to the perpetrator because they see themselves as righteous:  “I respect the office of the presidency but I don’t respect this president because he is a Socialist, a Muslim, a spawn of Satan or Hitler (I’m searching for his hidden horns and drawing on his Hitler mustache even as we speak)” or “I don’t have a racist bone in my body, I just worship Sarah Palin, Fox News, and the Drudge Report who do”—said with such vehemence and so many times that it prompts the person of color to scream to the heavens:  “me thinks thou doth protest too much, Tea-bagger!”

racist teabaggers cartoon politiskink dot com

Racist Tea Party Cartoon|image from politiskink.com

DEAR TEA PARTY:
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than
sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Even though we’ve come a long way, whenever I do a Google search with our President’s name, I almost vomit from the visceral racial hatred and disrespect that lashes out at me from the Internet because it seems that some of us are playing by a different set of rules, requiring others of us to reinstate “The Green Book” in order to survive.  This causes me great despair until I read the blogs of people like Frank Angle who wrote “On MLK 2013” (http://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/on-mlk-2013/ ) about the repentance of Elwin Wilson in 2009, a former Klansman, who attacked and beat a black college student in 1961 when he was one of the Freedom Riders trying to win the ability for African-Americans to travel across country via Greyhound and Trailway buses.  The black freedom rider grew up to be Congressman Joe Lewis.   Frank Angle included a YouTube video in his blog post of Wilson and Lewis’ exchange of repentance and forgiveness after 50 years, and it makes the viewer understand that there is a God, and one day we will all overcome our bigotry, our stupidity, our short-sightedness, our lack of grace, and our arrogance!

Elwin Wilson and Congressman Joe Lewis

Photo:  George Burns| Harpo Studios

For years, Elwin, an admitted former member of the Ku Klux Klan, says he prayed that he would meet the man he attacked at the bus station.Oprah.com

***

QUOTES BY MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

      “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.” – Martin Luther King, Jr

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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