When I was a little girl in the 1960′s, my mom once told me if she’d been born a black person she’d likely be dead by now.
She was raised in a small town in south Alabama where she observed overt racial discrimination on a daily basis. If you know the book To Kill a Mockingbird, my mom’s upbringing and early life was very similar to that of the character Scout Finch.
A sensitive little girl, my mother was raised by her single father after the death of her mom when she was three. Like Atticus Finch, her father was the town attorney.
She told me many stories about growing up during the Depression in a small Alabama town, a life that was in part idyllic. But other aspects of small-town life in the 1930′s was downright bleak and archaic.
Black people were treated as second-class citizens — or worse. As a child, my mom recognized the gross disparity in how people with different skin color were treated, and she hated it.
When she grew up and later moved to Atlanta, she was deeply moved by the work of Dr. King and the courage of those who were fighting for racial equality. She knew in her gut that treating an entire race as inferior simply because of skin color was immoral.
And she knew if she’d been born black, she wouldn’t have been on the sidelines or held her tongue at discrimination — hence her prediction that she’d likely be dead.
Imagine being rejected by society as unworthy simply because of the color of your skin.
Imagine an entire race of people being told they are inferior human beings. (more…)