Monday, January 15, 2007

We need Civil Rights


When I was growing up in R.I. we didn't
seem to have racial problems. I am sure
there were some type of racial classification,
but growing up, I wasn't aware of them.

In school, we had blacks. We had friends
who were black. My mother use to leave us with
a black lady, who was a fantastic cook. Still
can almost smell the great smells of entering
her home.

But when I went to stay with my grandfather,
in Florida, it was different. He had a lady who
cleaned his house once a week. Her name
was Mildred. She was a no nonsense type
of a woman, but very nice. So I went to
entered the bus, I saw her there.
I went to sit in the seat next to her. As we
visited while she worked at my grandfather's
and became friends.

What happen next, totally shocked me.
She got the look of almost terror as I start
to sit. Of which the bus stopped. And the
bus driver yelled at me. He told me I couldn't
sit there. I asked why, while she was telling
me, almost pleading with me, to do as the bus
driver says. She said she would explain next
time she came to my grandfather's house. That
I would get her in trouble. I stood up quickly,
because I surely didn't want her to get in trouble.
I went to the front of the bus as I was directed to
do so.

It was later, at my grandfather's house, she told me
that whites sit in the front of the bus and blacks
sit at the back. I asked her why, and she said, that
is just the way it is in the south. She also told me
about eating at counters and using public bathrooms.

As I went downtown Miami (my grandfather lived in
Miami Beach), I saw the signs that said "White Only".
And read in the paper how Louie Armstrong was not
allowed to stay at the very hotel that he was performing
at. See all black people had to be out of Miami Beach
by 7 p.m. unless they had a special permit for that
night to be serving food at private homes or such.

This was quite a surprise to a Northern gal, who treated
the blacks like anyone else. Who sat in a restaurant
across from our high school, drinking Coke and laughing,
with her black friends. Yes, this was quite a shock.
The year was 1958 and I was not quite 18.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The bus episode was just so wrong. I would have been petrified!!

When I was young I was always the person who stuck for the underdog. Color, race or just being plain different didn't matter and it still doesn't.