During the past year racism and the Covid19 pandemic have been uppermost in the news. The Black Lives Matter movement protesters have been out in full force, particularly since the death of George Floyd. People from all walks of life around the world have been expressing their desire, their dreams and hopes for change.
In the United States in 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, prior to that he played for the Montreal Royals as a stepping stone toward the big leagues!
In 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested and fingerprinted for refusing to give up her seat. At the time people of color were designated seats in the back of the bus.
Martin Luther King Jr. had not yet come upon the scene. It was in1963 that the famous march on Washington, DC took place. It was there that he gave a powerful “I Have a Dream “speech.
The current turmoil of systemic racism is slowly being addressed and is changing. Will the Black Lives Matter movement leave a lasting positive message?
Growing up in a small mining town in the Eastern Townships in the 50s the population was predominantly Caucasians, either French or English speaking . There were no other ethnic groups at the time. When I made frequent trips to the orthodontist in Montreal, I became aware of many diverse groups in our country. That was not the case in our small town. There were no people of African American descent or other ethnic groups.
Life’s adventures are ongoing learning experiences.
On a crisp October morning in 1956 the ’54 Hudson was all packed and we were looking forward to our long trip. Sarasota, Florida was our destination. At that time it was the winter home of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
The three of us were embarking on a long journey. Mac, the golf professional, and his wife Midge would be spending the winter months in their home in Sarasota. Every spring they would make their way back to Canada where Mac was the manager of the local golf course. I, on the other hand had just finished High School and was too young to pursue further studies. The plan was for me to spend the winter in Florida with them and broaden my horizons.
Among the many stops on our journey south was one that brings bac memories. Winston Salem, North Carolina was on our itinerary and we planned to spend the weekend with Midge’s sister, Elsie. She and her family lived in a luxurious home. Like most wealthy folks in the south, they had servants. Their daughter, Lucretia and I were about the same age. She began showing me around their home. Most likely we had just finished breakfast and she wanted me to meet the cook and her little granddaughter.
Looking at this little four-year-old who had the biggest smile, my first instinct was to go toward her, bend down and chat. In the process of moving toward her I froze and could not budge. No matter how hard I tried, I could not bring myself to go near her. What was happening? What was preventing me from touching her and chatting.
Shortly after this occurred I began to realize how much we are swayed and influenced by others.
The experience has left a lifelong impression. To this day, I get goose bumps thinking about my actions and the way I handled the situation as a young teenager. It was a valuable lesson at the time and still is.
With so much of the news revolving around Black Lives Matter will the movement be a major turning point in eradicating systemic racism?
Will it be in our lifetime?
The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for eauality.
A Timeline to indicate what was happening around the world and to put issues in perspective.