Marking the 50th anniversary of the Sept. 15, 1963, attack by Ku Klux Klan members at the 16th Street Baptist Church

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Charlie's picture

I appreciate you posting these, Jim. As a young guy from a fairly homogenous culture, it's hard to comprehend the world I see in these pictures. I'm attending a historic black church in Princeton, and it's been illuminating to me to see how important some of these 50-year anniversaries are to the people there. Several people in the church participated in both the 1963 march in D.C. and the one this year, and they gave testimonies in church. I think whites in America tend to view the battle for civil rights as limited to a few years in the 60s that got a lot of press, a battle that produced a clean victory for minorities. On the other hand, for black the issue is much more complicated, part of a much longer war that started at emancipation and has no clear end in sight.

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Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

dcbii's picture

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Charlie,

I think you hit the nail on the head, though not in the way you might think.  It's the whole idea of this "war [that] ... has no clear end in sight" that is truly baffling to many of us.

The things that can be accomplished through a "war" have largely been changed.  There is no legal slavery in this country.  There are now black leaders in every segment of our society, including sports, entertainment, business, and politics, up through the oval office.  The laws that needed to change have, at least in large part, changed.

I work at an engineering firm, and we have people of just about every race, including blacks, working there in harmony, just average Joes and Janes going about their work.  In fact, looking around at various businesses here in my state, I see blacks working in about every type of business there is, from blue collar to white, and covering the entire spectrum from laborer to senior management.

Now, I would agree that the hearts of all people have not necessarily been changed.  But not only is it an impossible goal to change the hearts of all people, it's something that almost never happens through a "war."  That type of action (or metaphor) just tends to make people dig in to their positions, rather that want to come to some sort of agreement.

If people today see the racial divide as a "war" to be fought as it may have been 50 years ago, then I believe that one of two things is true:  Either the "war with no clear end in sight" will never be won from the point of view of those waging it, or it's one that is never intended to be won, because the "war" itself brings a certain amount of power and influence, especially to some individuals.

King was right when he wanted all people to be judged on their character, but he didn't realize that many people 50 years later wouldn't want to be judged on any criteria, most of all their actual character.

Dave Barnhart