Wednesday, July 08, 2020

1987 … Kenny keeps his "Eyes On The Prize"

There is a lot of attention being paid to the history of our country right now and it brings back this memory from 1987. My husband Dick and I had moved to North Carolina from New York and he had
hired a young black man named Kenny to help him in his remodeling business. They would often end the day back at the house and we would all share dinner as they talked over the next day's schedule.

This time also coincided with the airing of the award winning PBS documentary “Eyes on The Prize” America's Civil Rights ... 1954-1965". I mentioned it to Kenny and was amazed to learn that he knew little about his own history. He had been born and schooled in North Carolina but he said that he had never been taught ANYTHING about the Civil Rights movement.

Naturally he was as excited to watch the show as we were and as we viewed the segments nightly Kenny became more and more agitated. This was completely new to him and he was amazed at what he was seeing. He even began to take notes and would ask my opinion on what we had seen. The part that affected him the most was when Gov. George Wallace stood before the schoolhouse door in Alabama and blocked the entry of the black students.

I could see the conflict of emotions that were roiling inside of him as he watched and suddenly he turned to me and, in his heavy southern accent, he said something that I'll never forget. He said, "Mizzrus Richard, do you know what? Someday that Governor is going to get real old and used up and he's going to spend his last days in a nursing home. And do you know who's going to take care of him? WE ARE !"   It wasn't meant as a threat...he was simply stating a fact ... but it gave me a chill. I was glad he kept watching the series and could see that Gov. Wallace had a change of heart and begged forgiveness of the many people with whom he had clashed.

I remember thinking then that our day of reckoning would surely come and now, 23 years later, I can actually see a glimmer of hope … if we can just “Keep our eyes on the Prize”.


Blogger kenju said...

Good story, Ginnie. I know a few people who refuse to see the good of what is happening now. I pray they will have a change of heart.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Marie Smith said...

The shameful treatment of aboriginal people and the Black community in Canada didn’t make the history books here in many parts of the country. It is beginning to change now. About time!

2:40 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

It is amazing what the younger generation doesn't know that we take for granted. Sue just watched some interviews on a beach in which the kids didn't know what July 4 was all about.

1:50 AM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

That was a powerful story and I am so happy you and Dick were there for Kenny. I really didn't know about the Governor having a change of heart later on.

9:44 AM  

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