(Note to the reader: I hope soon to make my blog available on Facebook. Also, according to what I THINK my girls tell me, you can click on “follow” below, post your email address there, and my blogs will pop up automatically, ready or not. I might be totally wrong: I’m still learning! Love, Nancy)
Jan. 19 Blog
Long ago I memorized a poem by Henry Longfellow. It began:
“Listen, my children, and you shall hear/
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.”
Today I feel like Longfellow. I have tales to tell. Listen, my children. I am one of the dwindling number of Southerners who grew up in the first part of the 20th century. Listen, my children. Yuppies, Generation X, and Millennials. You already know , from your history classes, movies and TV, the stories of Dr. King, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Andrew Young, and their followers – the brave, awesome black men and women who risked their very lives to end segregation in America.
But there were other heroes you don’t know about. They were White. They were Southern. They were not famous. Movies have not been made about them. But they, too, took heroic risks: stinging criticism, being snubbed and shunned by former friends and family, loss of jobs. They did it because of their deep, unshakable Christian faith. They believed that Jesus loves ALL the little children – red and yellow, black and white. The law that inspired them to fight against segregation was the Golden Rule. I think most communities in the South had a few such men and women. Quiet heroes who made the world a better place – not in their lifetime but in ours.
Just now we are terribly bogged down by painful racial divides. Ferguson…New York police…nationwide street demonstrations…all-white Oscar nominations.. issues around sports figures. It’s discouraging. But I try to remember that we have come a long, long way in my lifetime. Really, we have!
I have my own personal list of heroes in the early civil rights struggles. In another blog I’d like to tell you about them. Today, on Martin Luther King Day, I name and honor them as heroes.
1. Rev. Marshall C. Dendy, D.D. Presbyterian minister, outstanding leader, and the best daddy in the world.
2. Alice Jane Hover, youth minister and my personal mentor (though I didn’t know that word back then.)
3. Rev. Earl Stallings, Baptist minister in Birmingham and Marietta.
4. John Sibley, Atlanta attorney who led the movement to keep public schools open.
5. Ralph Magill, editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
6. Andrew Young, who needs no introduction.
Listen, my children. The color scheme of leaders in the long struggle for intergration has not been monochromatic. Not all black, but black-and-white. Five out of the six of my personal heroes were white. On this special day I thank them with all my heart.