I was really moved by the story, and amazed.
I was amazed by a scene of a 1960 Woolworth lunch counter sit-in in by black and white college students from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Now, of course, this wasn't the first time I'd ever heard of the lunch counter sit-in across the South in the 60's; but it still amazes me, less that the students had the courage to walk into the store and sit at the counter than that there were people in that Woolworth's who were so morally outraged and self-righteously angered by a group of peaceful young people trying to order lunch that they felt justified in screaming at these students, emptying the ketchup and mustard bottles on their heads, throwing sugar and hot coffee in their faces, attacking them, throwing them to the floor, and finally watching them being roughed up and dragged off by the police.
The movie also showed scenes of murdered Freedom Riders, civil rights protesters being attacked by police dogs and with fire hoses, and the famous photo of federalized National Guard troops protecting two black students as they entered the University of Alabama amidst a jeering crowd.
It amazes me that things used to be that way. That people used to think the way they did.
And yet there were people in this country, millions of them, who believed with all their souls that racial segregation was God's will and that any action was permissible to preserve it. They believed that equal rights for people of color was against the laws of God, man and the natural order of things.
People can be taught to believe in the most unjust, most unkind, most primitive and just plain most ridiculous notions. People can be taught to believe in anything.
And yet if I had been brought up in the South in the first half of the 20th Century, how do I know what my beliefs would have been in the early 1960's? Would I have been someone who could have broken through the dogma I'd been taught my whole life and supported integration and the civil rights movement?
And even if I'd supported the civil rights movement, would I have been brave enough to take a public stand? Those were, after all, dangerous times. Civil rights demonstrators got hurt in the South. They were killed.
I don't know what my beliefs or actions would have been had I lived in that time and place.
But I do know what my beliefs and actions are today.
Below are photos of myself and Theresa at a demonstration in downtown Columbus protesting the firing of a gay teacher from Bishop Watterson High School.