Friday, March 30, 2012

"But I Have Black Friends"

Greenwood was ground zero for the civil rights movement.  In school many of us were taught that sweet little Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus was what sparked the civil rights movement.  Most people are taught nothing about the brutal torture and murder of a 14 year-old black boy who MAY or may not have whistled at a white woman.  He was killed a few miles outside of Greenwood, four months before the Rosa Parks incident. 

Greenwood had demonstrations.  Greenwood had visitors like Martin Luther King, Jr.  Greenwood had blacks who were beaten; Greenwood had sit-ins, dog attacks on marchers, and on and on.  All the while the majority of the white middle class in Greenwood went on with their lives as if nothing unusual were taking place around them.  But they had a black friend named Booker Wright.

My grandfather worked at Lusco’s Restaurant for 25 years.  I know true, genuine affection must’ve passed between him and his white customers.  But at what cost?  Did they feel as though the issues of the day did not relate to them because they had a black friend?


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