Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.

 

Courage

I missed the president’s inaugural speech yesterday because I was part of a panel commemorating Martin Luther King’s visit to a small boys’ school in 1963. As I listened to the tape of King’s speech, I thought of the impact his presence had on me then, and I also thought that, despite all the changes of the intervening years, including the events in Washington, King could have given much the same speech today. As I listened to my co-panelists – Bill Forsyth, who spent 1964-5 in Mississippi with the Congress of Racial Equality, and Roger Daly, who registered black voters in Alabama with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee – I was reminded of the courage of so many people of all races in those years. Bill was arrested three times. Roger, who was arrested four times, was finally driven from the South after one man held a gun to his head and three others beat him to a pulp. He had been our football captain, and a want of aggression had not marked his character, but nonviolent resistance was the hallmark of the civil rights movement, and for Roger, who had always hated bullying, nonviolence was the cornerstone of his commitment. We should not forget that all the violence of those bloody days was perpetrated by one side, and Roger spoke of living in constant fear, of being a double outsider – hated by whites and mistrusted by fearful blacks – and of being ashamed of leaving. I write to honor both his courage and his honesty.

The Second Inaugural

Fifty Years Ago