This is the end of black history month. When I was in school, African-American studies were not a significant part of our curriculum. It didn’t matter though, because history was being made all around us at the time. Lots of great, good and bad things took place during my school years from grade 4 through college.
The air was electric with the words of the magnificent Martin Luther King, Jr, frightening and titillating words of Malcolm X, intriguing watching Lew Alcindor become Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and Cassius Clay become the poetic Muhammed Ali. People were still buzzing about Rosa Parks a decade later. Those were the days of demonstrations, sit-ins, Watts riots, other riots, integration and so many changes.
We teenagers were passionate and active and vocal, in favor of the changes, causing strong conflicts with parents, teachers and authority figures. Some inter-marriages, too. One of my best friends is still married to her high-school sweetheart. Some families learned to cope with the shocks and love each other. Some didn’t. One of the most talked about films at the time? Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. But, really, how could anyone object to Sidney Poitier? Of course, there was also the dark and frightening satire of Putney Swope. You don’t hear about that one, do you?
There were sobering moments, too – like the deaths JFK, MLK, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. I am sure everyone remembers where they were, or actually saw the assassinations. My spine still tingles thinking about that. They were very interesting times, that last half century. I feel so privileged to have lived to see history made.
This is a tribute to my “black” friends and colleagues – and all the people who love them.
And here’s to a color-blind future.