And I was reminding my first experience with having to fight for African American rights at Spelman College in 1987...The second semester of my Freshman year...I started in the Fall, 1986.
It was my indoctrination into what my ancestors fought and died for...Under "Civil Right's Incidents"
I was THERE in January 24, 1987... One of the 20,000. One in the 500 busloads of protesters. It was my first time EVER seeing the Klan in full regalia and a dividing line of United States Guardsmen requested by the Governor and sent by President Reagan. What my mother got water cannoned for. What my father got arrested for just integrating a lunch counter. Reverend Hosea Williams was one of the major civil rights activists that traveled with Dr. Martin Luther King.
This blog is my recollection of those days...
I was nothing but an impressionable 18 year old "girl". I had just gotten back from my holiday return home speaking of the wonderful words of Spelman on my first semester. I was enthralled of the new things I was learning, I hated a few of my professors, but nothing out of the ordinary. My grandfather, Dr. Richard V. Moore was alive! I knew I could do anything!
Then I watched Television when I first saw it...The following is only a quote of what happened:
In 1987 he led another nationally-covered march, this one consisting of 75 people in Forsyth County, Georgia, which at the time (before becoming a major exurb of northern metro Atlanta) had no non-white residents. He and the others were assaulted with stones and other objects by the KKK and other white supremacists.
There was only 10-15 protesters who were literally ran away. The entire school ran to the television to see it. I was put on what was now called CNN seen across the nation. As kids we were only told what happened. Surely things are better and more equal these days! RIGHT???
I was wrong...
I never thought to call my parents. There was no such thing as cell phones or the ones they had used wagons to cart. So I could not call my folks about going. All I knew was to fight for my people. I wanted to make a difference. And remember this type was BC = before computers. So no email. There was chat or Commodore 64 type chat...
I joined 4-5 people, 2 of which I remains friends with today. It was cold. Fortunately I was bundled. Failed to eat and coffee was not our thing. There was no food. Barely had money.
We rode the bus up to North to Forsyth county, who at the time ran Black people out in 1912 and no other Black person lived there, since! The reason why in 1986-1987 Black people were trying to live there was their jobs relocated them there. The land was plentiful and inexpensive and developers desired the land. Remember this was the same time the Black Farmers were going through their trials with Ms. Sherrod... I found out that information as I got older.
Along the way, bigoted racist Caucasian men flipped us off. They were your typical bigots: huge rusty truck with a gun rack missing teeth, some with the Confederate Battle Flag. What made it partially amusing was somehow this homeless bum got on and kept yelling out, "Hey that dude threw a bird!"
Then we got to the "small town" of Forsyth, Georgia and the only fast food place was "Kentucky Fried Chicken". We were so hungry, we had to eat--just one biscuit. Then this "prophesier Black man" started saying to all who listened, "Don't support those who oppress you. You buy from them, they will use it to oppress you."
We looked at one another and we decided not to eat. Peer pressure! Back then the foibles of teenagers was unknown by our families and friends. So we starved.
Then we walked to the center of town to wait to hear several top speakers: Reverend Hosea Williams, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, Reverend Jesse Jackson, etc.
What I remember seeing:
The line of US National Guardsmen...Khaki green in boots, helmets, riot gear.
Helicopters roaming around to suppress any fights.
News vans seeing if anything were to jump off.
Then 20 of the Klan in white robes. One really piggly red guy calling forth to ride off and take over.
Several people carrying signs. A few Republicans carrying signs against racism. I remember looking at another guy who said to me, "sounds like an oxymoron to me!"
We kept moving because we were cold, hungry and tired. Then the Klan started their large trucks motors whirring, yelling, "You would not be as strong without the National Guard!" And then the Helicopter lowered to suppress their actions. The helicopter looked white with yellow stripes. It felt like I could touch it in the sky.
I really did not hear any of the speeches. It seemed like the same rhetoric spoken all the time by our so-called kneegrow leaders--stop hating, be good and do not fight each other because we are brothers and sisters in God and the Universe.
We returned home, ran to get food from our cafeteria and then plopped down on the bed. I do not remember much what happened afterward. I got bits and pieces. But I felt a kinship with my parents because I had a taste of what they suffered. Moreover, I think this event started my hard core reason to fight. To prove to people that I was good enough, a better person and that I can compete at similar levels.
Now looking back, looking at my life in totality so close to my birthday, I wonder the "what ifs". If I had spoken to my parents before the event, I probably would have been talked out in going. I would have wanted to be a part of changing for the better part of history... If I had eaten, I would have been able to focus on the speeches and desire to develop this "civil rights fight" I believed in and community organizer!
It reminded me of how I supported Dr. Julian Bond's congressional campaign my first semester, Freshman year. I was even able to speak to him briefly, until someone on his campaign told me to leave that I was some "dumb little girl". I missed my hometown at that time, but my mental health issue had not totally kicked in yet.
I think as I look back is young people have no clue of how far we have come and what it took to get there. How respectful are they to their elders? I think some are. Many are not. Since, I do not have children, I would not begin to understand how to communicate with a child other than my brother's children, nephew and niece.
There is one thing I know is "LOVE"...I have learned to love myself more during this trying times. And I know I am love per the reminder of this song:
Don't give up...