I just read a really wonderful article at CNN.com called Crossing Racial Lines: Meeting Friends They Never Had. It’s about the joint reunion of the segregated high school classes of 1959 in Macon, Georgia. The reunion was the idea of Tom Johnson, who then wrote to everyone in the classes. One of the things he said in his letter was, “We had lived in a separate black and white world in Macon. … It is a different world today. We no longer are separated, except by personal choice.” As a result, the classes came together for the first time, last month. Regarding the conversations at the reunion:
Listening to his mother and her childhood friends, Cordell said, he was struck by how segregation was “was so transparent to them at the time they were living through it. It was a way of life, so they didn’t acknowledge its existence.”
“I find it interesting how human nature teaches you to accept things that are — and some people question the reality, and other people don’t.”
This reunion is such a testament to people’s ability to improve the world. It is easy to despair at all that is still wrong, but stories like this show clearly how far we’ve come – in less than a lifetime! We can go this much farther again, from where we are now! Think what it will be like when we do. We have so much more to do, until everyone is truly regarded as equal, but if we keep believing it can be done, we will do it.
To me, there is also a strong parallel between this and war. War is as transparent to most people now, as segregated high schools were in the 1950s. It is so much a part of our way of life we don’t acknowledge its existence. It just has to be, though, that someday enough people will question the reality of war and see that it is a choice that we need not make, that we will not have wars anymore. I imagine that another 50 years after that, people will look back on war and think, “That is so wrong, that I can’t believe people seriously ever did that”. The wrongness of war will be as clear to them, then, as it is now, to us, how wrong it was to segregate schools based on race.