Governor George Wallace blocking the entrance to the administration building to prevent Vivian Malone and James Hood, both of African descent, from registering to attend the University of Alabama.
This picture was taken about a mile away from the segregated whites only public school where I was attending first grade in Tuscaloosa Alabama. An awful lot of good people devoted their lives to ending that era of American history. Far too many gave their lives. These are the the heroes, the great American patriots, that we should honor today.
I remember listening to the news on the radio back then and hearing about the terrorism that was common practice in the region. I remember the Ku Klux Klan. I remember the judge that lived on our block who had his toilet seat replaced when he found out that his maid had used it. I remember my father being sent to the hospital after being beaten by a racist mob for attending the local white movie theater after blacks had entered it. I only realized years later that the reason he taught me to hit an acorn from fifty feet with a semi automatic rifle. That's a lot of bad memories. And I'm white. I know that many of my neighbors know of much more and much worse.
Within the last decade we have seen violence and murder inspired by prejudice in our country. This is a day to celebrate a great step forward in the fight to overcome injustice and intolerance, but the poison still runs deep in the veins of our country. I hope and believe that inspiration gained from what happened on November 4, 2008 will help us get a little closer to being a society truly free of hate and fear, but we have a long way to go. Lets all try a little harder now.