Wednesday, May 09, 2007

We've come a long way...or have we?

The Civil Rights Movement completely fascinates me--the boldness and courage inspires me while the hatred and abuse horrifies me.

When I travel to different cities, I try to carry my book of Civil Rights sites with me so that I can visit the places in the city where monumental events took place (despite the sighs and rolling eyes of my fellow travelers).

One place I've always wanted to visit is Central High in Little Rock. Even though I went to college in Searcy, AR and was only 45 minutes away from Little Rock, I knew very little about the Civil Rights Movement until post-college when I began to educate myself on the issue. (One of the best memoirs I ever read was Warriors Don't Cry, the story of Melba Patillo Beals' experience integrating Central High in 1957 and what the students endured behind the closed doors of the school.)

However, when I read this article in the New York Times about Central High's heated school board meetings, Whites versus Blacks, the nostalgia waned.

Yes, what the Little Rock Nine did was amazingly selfless and courageous. Because of their perseverance, we are an "integrated" society. But have we really moved beyond living side by side?

While we may be able to mingle with each other today, as the NY Times article demonstrates, many of our issues are still split right down racial lines. It seems to me that it may have something to do with the fact that we don't seem to want to listen to each other...and even if we listen, we don't want to hear. Everybody's too busy trying to be right.

What would happen if we put as much effort in to working toward communication and understanding as we do in proving how right we are?
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