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The fight will take forever
When I was young, African Americans were referred to as negroes, colored people, and the “N” word. The “N” word was a common word back then, and I venture to say that anyone who is 60 or older would be hard-pressed to deny ever having used that word.
When I was a kid, I didn’t even know it was offensive. I grew up in Decatur and the segregated area where blacks lived in shacks on dirt roads in the area close to Bank Street was referred to as “N” Town. The balcony of the Princess Theater, where entrance was gained via an outside staircase, so that concession areas, water fountains, and bathrooms would not be shared, was referred to as the “N” section.
In the downtown Woolworth store there was a water fountain labeled “white” and a smaller one labeled “colored.” I remember when young black men stared at the sidewalk when walking in the downtown area so that they dared not even look at a white girl or woman.
I first became cognizant that something wasn’t quite right when a black woman and her daughter were over at my granny’s one day. The little girl and I were about 4 years old. She had her doll and I had mine and we played and played and I remember what fun we had and how we hugged each other when it was time for them to go.
I asked if she could come over and play again one day and both my granny and her mamma clutched their chests and said, “Oh, no, no, no.” At that moment in time the little girl and I just stared at each other; we just didn’t understand why. It just didn’t register. We were like deer in the headlights. As time went on, my feelings of, “something’s not right here,” continued to grow and, as history has told, I was not the only one.
I am hopeful that, as human beings, we will continue to evolve and to work to fight against that which is unjust forever. And it will take forever. As we learn better, hopefully we will do better.