Monday, January 15, 2007

How things have changed

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On this Martin Luther King, Jun. holiday, I am reminded of how greatly things have changed in regards to race relations. I can hardly even imagine seeing the kind of things pictured above--water coolers and restrooms labeled "Whites Only" or "Colored Only." It seems so bizarre, like something from another world if not another time. And yet it was right in our midst and it was not that long ago.

I remember the moving testimony of a fellow priest about how he decided to become an Episcopalian when he saw first hand how whites and blacks knelt side-by-side in church to receive Holy Communion, drinking out of the same cup. This was back in the 1960s in rural Georgia. Actions and visual testimonies speak loudest of all.

I've never seen such a thing in person as is shown above, and this is really the only clear example I could find online. Have things improved? Are race relations better? I would say so. Things certainly look different, and no one is going to return to things pictured above. I'm sure other things have not changed as much as they have become unofficial or hidden. Some things have simply moved underground and into the shadows. There will probably always be more work to be done.

King understood this best--that change really occurs first in the heart, in the hidden life, and that the force of positive change is moral courage. That's how it works. Fears as confronted, old hatreds overcome, new trusts earned, loving communities built one heart at a time. Today, I give thanks for those who changed the world I live in before I got here, and for those who will change the world for the better tomorrow.

Thanksgiving for the Diversity of Races and Cultures
(Book of Common Prayer, p 840)
O God, who created all peoples in your image, we thank you for the wonderful diversity of races and cultures in this world. Enrich our lives by ever-widening circles of fellowship, and show us your presence in those who differ most from us, until our knowledge of your love is made perfect in our love for all your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My memory regarding this particular discrimination was when I was a child in the 1950's. We were visiting Dallas from Oklahoma. My parents, older brother and older sister were at Neiman Marcus in downtown Dallas. My sister and I approached the two water fountains that were side by side. I could not read. She drank from one and pointed to the other one and told me that one was for me. (the one she drank from was labled WHITE and the one she told me to drink from was labeled COLORED)
As I remember--the water was quite good!!!