Living in a Democracy

Central High School, Little Rock, AR

This morning I realized that the “world” into which I was born, lived my youth and middle age, has passed into history. Young 20 and 30 something citizens probably know little about that time — the 60s — when American society rocked and protested itself out of the post war era of our parents.

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.                                     ~ Edmund Burke

Adults in my life as a teenager were locked into the belief that American life was a happy prosperity wrought from a terrible war. My parents, former career military couple, returned to East Tennessee to their home roots where not much had changed in rural Southern culture. White culture prevailed and a sharp divide between the poor and rich kept the social boundaries in place. If there were blacks in my community, they were no where in sight. From an unpublished memoir of that time:

Religious life in East Tennessee left much to be examined. The culture had a dark underbelly. Women wore prissy hats with a white organdy veils and spotless white gloves as they sat in the pew with their families at Munsey Memorial Methodist Church.  Peyton Place was being read in closets and under sheets by flashlight. Mom and her daughters were no exception. We lined-up, hats atop, white gloved, legs crossed just so, still marching to authority’s drumbeat. While the civil rights movement called to believers in Christ’s message to help end unjust laws and practices, and to stop brutality, torture, and the murder of black Americans—life went on as usual, the culture blinded by an interpretation of “God’s word” that blasphemed its true meaning. The deaths of four black youth in the Birmingham bombing did not move the moral lassitude in my hometown.

Just sayin’ . . .

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