When we attempt to muzzle people’s pain we widen their wounds. Without honest communication there is no intimacy. Without intimacy it’s difficult to touch a heart, the seedbed of where true, lasting, and positive change can take place.
So, thank you to authors Lori Stanley Roeleveld and Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith for participating in this interview. I’m grateful for your courage to start this conversation and for showing us how to do likewise with your amazing book, Colorful Connections: 12 Questions About Race That Open Healthy Conversations.What an honor it is to host you.
Mr. Keith McDaniel, author, teacher, documentary filmmaker, owner of Secret City Films, and Knoxville Film Festival Executive Director and Mr. Ray Smith, City of Oak, Tennessee Historian, have much in common and have worked together on several projects over the years combining their many shared skills and unique talents to bring history to light and alive.
I was honored (and yes, of course terrified) when they recently hosted me as a guest on their program Hidden History: Stories from the Secret City and invited me to share a bit of the story and progress on my journey to write a book on the integration of Oak Ridge, TN. (Video below.)
What an honor and a delight to speak to Civil Rights Icon Ambassador Andrew Young and share this video interview with you. Ambassador Young was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s trusted friend and top strategist in the #CivilRightsMovement. He celebrated his 90th birthday on March 12th, 2022. (Happy Birthday Ambassador Andrew Young. Thank you for your example and lifetime of service to our country and the world.)
At a time in our nation fraught with division, Officer Brian Morrison of the Barnstable, Massachusetts Police Department has embedded himself in his community. He serves as the department’s community resource and civil rights officer among many other involvements. His perspective as a Black police officer, his service, and influence as a bridge between people has won him awards and the hearts of the Cape Cod community and beyond.
“There’s a trick to community policing. ‘Start with the kids.'” Officer Morrison stated in a 2021 Cape Cod Times article by Jeannette Hinkle. “A School Resource Officer’s role is not limited to being a police officer as they are a counselor, teacher, coach, and mentor.” No wonder he is viewed by many as the unofficial Mayor of Cape Cod. What a privilege to introduce you to him during Black History Month in this video interview with an optional downloadable audio version. — Oh, and apparently some police officers prefer chocolate chip cookies! I’ll make sure to remember that, Officer Morrison.
The young Black man stood against the backdrop of Trinity United Methodist Church on Robertsville Road in the late afternoon. Jefferson Avenue stretched across the way. It was the summer of 1963 and the picketers had gathered again outside the MultiMatic Laundry at the end of the West Mall and Market Area in Jefferson Center. Their goal: integrate the laundromat.
The battle to write is fierce. I’ve cried my way through writing articles, written under the weight of discouragement and doubt, thought I’d never finish some pieces, and almost didn’t submit others. But several of the hardest pieces to write opened doors, won awards, and people blessed me when they shared my writing ministered to them. —Don’t quit.
We must each obey our call and trust God to enable and use us as He wills. (Remind me of that tomorrow, please.)
Created in 1942, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, also known as the Secret City and the Atomic City, was one of the three major sites set up as part of the U.S. government’s Manhattan Project. The scientists at the laboratory in the Secret City developed the materials to build the atomic bomb that ended WWII. But Oak Ridge has other stories. Twenty years after its inception, Black citizens, many of whom the government had brought in to build the laboratory and city, still lived under the oppressive culture and restrictions of Jim Crow segregation laws.
This article is the first in a series Mr. Smith invited me to write for his column. (Thank you.) 🙂 The articles and the book I’m writing on the integration of Oak Ridge in the 1960s were first inspired by the stories of my father-in-law and his best friend. They will feature the accounts of many valiant souls with a message for today.
“You’ll like this one,” she said as she thrust the sign in my hands and ran off into the crowd, leaving me in a dilemma. I attended this peaceful anti-racism protest organized by friends of my seventeen and twenty-one-year-old children to keep a watchful eye for any trouble, to support several involved whom I love, and to learn. Well, it was a peaceful protest until we arrived at the state police barracks where the march ended. It got a little hairy for a bit when a couple of women attempted to take over while hurling a high decibel, disrespectful tirade of questions and demands at the law enforcement officers who stood in front of the barracks. “Once the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace,” the quote on the sign I held read.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. ―Martin Luther King Jr.
The King of all creation, Jesus, shouldered our sin and calls us to bear one another’s burdens.
..in the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. —Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream, speech
“the time is always right to do the right thing”―Martin Luther King Jr.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love oneanother; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34 (NKJV)
We are not our skin; it’s just the stuff we live in. Strawberry, lemon, chocolate, vanilla—let us savor the flavor in each other’s cultures.
Some believe themselves superior while exhibiting inferior behavior toward others. With large mouths, shriveled hearts and tiny mindsets they eke out finite lives in their effort to undermine noble ones. Others say they want equal rights but demand special privileges.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”―Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
What if instead of looking out for ourselves we looked out for each other?
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Philippians 2:3 (NKJV)
The Bible says:
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, Acts 17:26 (NKJV)
The Great Seal of the United States of America says we are. “E Pluribus unum, out of many, one.” Our pledge of allegiance states, “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” and our national motto says, “In God We Trust.” But when we seek our own and trust in man, as some do, we end up divided. See, the Gospel has the answers—it is the answer for all that ails us.
We are meant to marvel at the majesty of the Creator in His creation.
There is a root that sustains
There is one Vine—
How marvelously He colors our lives with vibrant brushstrokes of many hues—
Facets of Himself reflected in our differences
Let us recognize our common ground
The ongoing work of the The Master Artist.
Portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. by Jean Colby
Link here to read: One Blood, A Civil Rights Story, as told to me by Jean Colby, my mother-in-law and Sara Clay, my sister-in-law about their experiences as Civil Rights activists, about the March Against Fear, MLK, and James Meredith. (Scroll down in my post, See, Stand, Speak.)
What are your thoughts on the current racial tensions in America? What do you feel has fueled them and what do you think we as a nation and the Church can do to quell this and bridge the racial divide?
…The tensions are high and so political. The whole thing upsets me. People’s lives should never ever be political playing cards, and yet they are. They always are. I believe that what we did during the time of slavery was horrifying and we should not be dismissive of those whom it is still impacting today. I believe…
…My wife is Chicana from west Texas, and I, (though Texan as well), am actually a fifth generation Cherokee that left the… Click here to Continue.
It’s loud out there. Much of the voices are of those in error, who sow division, stir up strife, and spew hate, and doctrines of loose living. They seek to cast off the restraints and Biblical principles our Nation was founded on which secured our freedom and bound us to the blessings of the Almighty, our Creator.
Too often those who believe in righteousness choose to remain silent or are not given the platform to stand and speak. Or sometimes when they do, others do not support them. There is no neutral ground. If we say nothing and do nothing when we are called to stand and speak we become part of the problem. Speak the truth in love, because that’s what love does.
I write to make Truth Himself, Jesus Christ known, so lost ones can find Home. I write to shed light and hope and truth abroad, through His Word, the words He gives me, and sometimes through the words of others. I write to encourage and inspire the well doing and weary ones to hold on and carry on.
So, what are you doing? What has God called you to do? Better find out if you don’t know. Tick-tock-tick-tock—
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)
Truth must speak more loudly than lies. Those who walk with wisdom must lead so others can follow and be saved from stumbling, foolishness and folly. Hope is not meant to be hidden in our hands but offered to the needy, the thirsty.
Yes, light casts out darkness, but only if we hold our candles high. Encourage. Educate. Empower, inspire, motivate. See. Stand. Speak Truth. Speak life.
Despite the passage of civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965, change was slow. James Meredith, the first African American to enroll at the University of Mississippi, set out to draw attention to the continuing racial oppression in the Mississippi Delta and to encourage voter registration by African Americans, in the face of great opposition and despite the fear it produced. He embarked on his solo mission, The March Against Fear, in June 1966, starting in Memphis, Tennessee with the intent of ending at the State house in Jackson Mississippi, the state capital. On the second day of his march, Meredith was shot by a white sniper by the name of James Aubrey. Upon learning of the shooting, other Civil rights leaders, organizations and supporters, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., decided to continue the march.
In June, 1966 my husband, Roy, and I participated in the March Against Fear. The purpose of the march was to non violently support and encourage voter registration of the black population and to not be hindered by fear or from the hateful opposition they faced. We took our four children with us. Their ages were 5, 7, 9, and 12. The night before we marched, we stayed with families from neighboring black churches, my husband and son with one family, and myself and our daughters with another.
The next day was brutally hot, so our hosts gave us salt pills to prevent dehydration.There were about 200 of us, and as we marched through each town we kept picking up more people. We were among the few whites in the mostly black crowd. Angry faced locals lined the highway, some carrying rifles, harassing us as we walked by. Our oldest child, Sara, remembers the hate filled face of a woman riding in a truck, with guns on a rack in the back. The woman shouted obscenities in her face and spit on her. Immediately our 12 year old was swept into the middle of the marchers to keep her safe. A grandmotherly black woman right behind her said, “Don’t you fret about it honey, we’re just gonna sing.” And they did.
“This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine.”
This is how you fight back. You sing.
Then the horrifying word came through that a black man had been lynched that same day outside the town we had just passed through.
As we walked along highway 51, we often saw poor black people bending over in the cotton fields. As soon as they saw us they would rise up tall, wave and give the marchers huge smiles of encouragement.
After a few hours, we stopped at a small farmhouse. We all took drinks of water from the well out front. It was there that our Hartford Seminary classmate and good friend, Andy Young, a colleague of Martin Luther King Jr., discovered us. He said, “Wait right here just a minute.” He went inside the house where Dr. King was involved in a strategy meeting with other leaders. Dr. King stopped what he was doing, came out to the road, and greeted our family. He then blessed each of our children. It is forever a treasured memory. Then some printed handbills appeared and were passed among us with these encouraging words from Dr. King:
“We’re moving up the highway of Freedom toward the City of Equality. We can’t stop now.
In the evening we had supper in the school yard. Out of nowhere came enough food for over 200 people, as in the Bible account where on the mountainside 5,000 were fed. Peanut butter sandwiches, apples, and piles of fried chicken prepared by women from local black churches, who could ill afford it. To protect us while we ate, Federal Marshals with machine guns sat on top of the roof of the school.
After supper, as we left to head back home to Chicago, there were no federal marshals, just an angry white crowd lining the highway, shouting and shaking their fists at us, some with rifles. My husband yelled at us to get down on the floor of the car as he drove quickly out of there.
We were never afraid while walking up that highway, because we were all together, over 200 of us. We kept on singing, and we kept on walking. What a privilege it was to be there.
Meredith recovered from his wounds and rejoined the march, walking on the front lines next to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and other Civil Rights leaders. The marchers grew in number to an estimated 15,000 participants and on June 26th, 1966, the 220 mile march ended with their arrival at the Statehouse in Jackson, Mississippi. Figures released by the US Justice department, showed that over 4,000 black people registered to vote during the march.
Sarah, you were only twelve years old. How did you feel about participating in the march?
I was never afraid. There were too many of us together to be afraid. I wasn’t even sure where my parents were. I think Mom was driving the First Aid car, and I didn’t know where Dad was, but we were all going to meet for dinner at the picnic place, so it was fine.
Tell me about the woman in the truck who spat at you.
I remember an ugly, angry face, hatred personified. She was screaming obscenities at me, a twelve year old girl- like, “Are you gonna sleep with that #?*# n—–?! You little n—– lover!” She was probably a beautiful woman, but that day she was very ugly.
Suddenly, these big black men surrounded me and put themselves between me and the vehicles. And I remember this big black grandmotherly lady saying to me, “Don’t you pay them no mind. We’re just gonna keep on singing.” Then we sang, This Little Light of Mine.
How did that make you feel? What was going through your head?
I wasn’t shocked. I had encountered southern racism before when I was eight years old and our family moved from Chicago where I attended an integrated school, to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. On the ride to Oak Ridge, we stopped at a gas station and I went to go to the bathroom. One bathroom had a door with a sign over it that said, “Whites Only.” The other bathroom had a sign which read, “Coloreds Only” and had no door with just a hole in the ground for a toilet. It looked like it had never been cleaned. I refused to get the key for the white toilet, but instead went around the back and peed in the grass. I wasn’t using the White’s Only bathroom.
Sarah, were white, and only eight years old. That’s very young to have such conviction and make a stand. It would have been really easy for you to just go get the key and use the nice clean White’s Only bathroom.
If everyone couldn’t use it, then I wasn’t using it either. I wasn’t getting that key! I wasn’t any kind of hero; I just had the same gut reaction any decent person would have had.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
Jean, if then was now, or a similar situation presented itself, knowing the dangers, would you participate? Would you bring your children or grandchildren to it?
Yes. Children need to know, to see and be with people who aren’t like them. And when you gotta stand up for justice, it’s what you gotta do.
“the time is always right to do the right thing”― Martin Luther King Jr.
Jean, did you expect the level of opposition you faced during the march?
I don’t know if I thought about it beforehand, but I knew there had always been opposition to the Civil Rights Movement in the past.
Russ Taff, Alicia Williamson, We Will Stand, (Live)
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35 (NKJV)
(I am truly blessed to have Jean as my mother-in-law, and Sara as my sister-in -law )
I’d like to invite you to read about our young friend, Alek’s, battle against Lymes disease. Please consider sharing on your social media and with friends, family and co-workers.
*Matching funds on new donations from February 1st- February 14th, 2018! Link to read his story or donate toward his ongoing treatment. the information on Lymes disease in this article by his mom is a good education on the disease and may be helpful to others battling it or with undiagnosed similar symptoms: