Notes From A Native Daughter

Posted: August 28, 2013 in #31WriteNow Challenge, Current Events

We all know the 50th anniversary of The March on Washington is today. The day will be marked by speeches, reflections, appreciation by some, and innocent and not so innocent indifference by others. Relevant stats on the day are here.

I had just turned six that August, and my recollection of the many specifics of the March is vague but my memory of how I felt is still pretty vivid.  Long before the immediacy of the internet, news traveled slowly and much of TV was still in black and white.  I remember the excitement of all the adults, their admiration for Martin Luther King, and their suspicion of Malcolm X.

Kids weren’t nearly as sophisticated and informed as they are today. The biggest thing on my mind during the March was the injustice King and other Civil Rights leaders were fighting against. At six, I’d heard and seen enough news stories to know about racism, but I’d been pretty shielded. What I did know was the hardships for those in the South. George Wallace’s Inaugural Address where he’d proudly proclaimed “Segregation Now, Segregation Forever” had happened earlier that same year on January 14th, I wondered how he got away with talking so openly about segregation. The differences between the two regions, North and South seemed so vast to me that it seemed like we lived in two Americas. I remember being worried (I tended to be an anxious kid) that what was happening in the South, would somehow move North if the March on Washington, and King’s efforts failed. How could so few Southern states wield so much power.

Even at my young age, I knew the March was  a big deal. It was covered on TV, in black and white, and I was so amazed and impressed by the masses of people, all colors, and professions. I could feel the awesome galvanizing energy. The glamourous celebrities looking flawless in the Washington DC heat. I remember hoping everyone would be kept safe because violence and Civil Rights always seemed to coincide.  I wasn’t so sure about nonviolence; why would anybody let themselves get beat up on purpose? At age six, the whole thing was just too deep for me, I just didn’t “get” civil disobedience.

The March on Washington was in 1963, seven years after the 13 month Montgomery Bus Boycott made Rosa Parks an iconic symbol of equality. The Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery wouldn’t happen for two more years. In my six-year-old opinion, change was happening much too slowly, and I remember wondering why the President didn’t just make all the States obey the same laws. President John F. Kennedy would be assassinated three months later, that same year.

I wondered why it was OK for segregation, discrimination and racism to co-exist so easily. I may have only been six, but the whole thing just seemed totally, ridiculously,  unfair to me back then.

It still does.

#31WriteNow daily blog challenge-Day 28.

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Comments
  1. PETRONIA says:

    OVERWHELMINGLY TOUCHING!!!!!!!!!!

    Like

  2. I loved that perspective of your little girl you.

    Like

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