Growing up as a kid in Lansing, I was totally oblivious to racism. I had friends in school of all colors. My parents did as well.
I do remember one night when I was in high school walking home from a local ball park through the middle of what was considered a very “bad” section.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a voice screamed at me—“Larry, what the &^%$ are you doing walking down here all by yourself?” This large, well known in school, athletic, and black friend of mine then proceeded to walk with me to what was considered a “safe” area—chewing me out all the way.
Incidentally, we are still friends. I see him monthly when a group of us from Lansing Eastern get together for lunch.
In August, after graduating from HS in June, I joined the USAF. After 12 weeks of basic and another 21 weeks in weather school, I was sent to North Carolina.
On my first weekend break, three of us went to town—one from NY, one from NJ, and me from MI. They had been there for a while. After fooling around town for a bit, we needed to hit a bathroom.
That’s when the shock really hit. At the back of the store we went into, there were two men’s restrooms.
Over one read WHITE, and over the other read COLORED. Between the two doors were two drinking fountains, each displaying the same signs.
I looked at my NY friend who had been there for a year. He merely shrugged and said, “That’s the way it is. Welcome to the South.”
I think of these two incidents every MLK day. I wish I didn’t. I wish it hadn’t been.
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Below is Book 2 of the I Can and I Will trilogy. If you haven't read them, hustle it up. Book 3 will show up this year.
Reading the obituary, naming his father as a dead man’s estranged son, left Ryan speechless. Who was this man, and why hadn’t he and his brother Rayden ever even heard of him? Because of this incident, the boys come to realize they know nothing of their father’s childhood. Why? Therein lies the title, Tell Me Why.
When growing up in a happy, stable home, sometimes one never thinks of oddities. For the Miller boys, the fact that their last names and those of their grandmother and dad’s brother were different never occurred to them. That’s just the way it always had been. Sometimes, a jarring episode changes things.