Figgins has been confused about some recent incidents in the current Presidential campaign where some candidates have been accused of trying to “play the race card”. Thankfully, Figgins was born and raised in a time when race is much less divisive than it was when I was growing up. So, I’ve been drawing on my experience from that former era to help him understand.
Senator Hillary Clinton’s recent remark, indicating that President Lyndon Baines Johnson was more deserving of credit for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been central in this. Although I’m not able to look upon Mrs. Clinton’s heart, I told Figgins that I doubted if she had any malicious intent towards Dr. King, in making her comment. However, I went on to say that I do think her intent was self-serving political leverage and it led to a blunder that was harmful to everyone involved, including herself.
I don’t often think of Mrs. Clinton and her Husband, former President Bill Clinton, having much in common with me but, in this regard, it struck me that there are four things that we do have in common. (1) We were born in the 1940s, all within the same 14 month period. (2) We were all born and raised in the Midwest/Mid-South. (3) We are all White. (4) We all should remember how differently those who weren’t White were treated by the culture we grew up in and how very wrong that was.
If you don’t recall what our culture was like in the time prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or you haven’t studied it, I recommend that you find a book called Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored, written by Clifton L. Taulbert. Clif was born in the mid 1940s too but he was born in the South, he isn’t White and his book does a good job of capturing what that time was like.
I can’t imagine anyone living in that time not noticing Dr. King and what was going on with the Civil Rights Movement. I certainly noticed. But, frankly, Dr. King wasn’t a hero to me then. However, one day I heard him say, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Those words were like seeds planted in me to bring about a much needed change in my heart. No doubt, those words impacted others differently but Dr. King and those striving with him deserve the credit for the plantings that brought about a much needed change in this nation’s heart and I suspect that included the heart of this nation’s President at the time, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
Its a shame that Senator Clinton would make such a self-serving and harmful comment. However, maybe its good that it happened, if for no other reason than to refresh our memory of how far our country has come since 1964 and how thankful we should be for those, like Dr. King, who were willing to live and in fact, to die to accomplish this. Its, also, a fond reminder to me of a time when my Wife and I got to worship with the flock at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Atlanta, where both Dr. King and his Father once served as Senior Pastor. The Bible Study that day was from Romans 8. Probably, the best known part of that Chapter is verse 28 … “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [His] purpose.”