Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Civil Rights Movement Part 1

Terre Haute, IN – It was September 2nd, 1945. For some, the war had lasted four years, and they were heartily tired of it. They had lost their sons from Pearl Harbor to Berlin, and in villages whose names they would never know, and in cities whose names they could never pronounce. The bloodshed had been horrific, the scale of violence unknown. But today, on the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan signed the end of the war.

In Times Square, an unidentified Sailor kissed an unidentified girl. People everywhere celebrated. To my knowledge no one kept a record of how much Champagne was drunk that night, old bottles held ready for this event, if it would ever come. But, like the World Series to a team with the Curse of the Goat, it had finally come.
With the war over, the time had come for the soldiers to come home. They made their way back from every corner of the globe, from Okinawa to Germany and France. Some came back walking, others hobbling, others were carried. But for those that came back, they had been, and always would be a band of brothers, who had shared time under fire together, when inches and seconds mattered to existence. Then, it had not mattered if you were black or white to your survival under fire, you had to trust the guy next to you, no matter his skin color.
As they came home, they began to seek desegregation. In response, in December, before the snow began falling, President Truman ordered Executive Order 9808, the Presidential Committee on Civil Rights.
The committee published a 178 page report entitled To Secure These Rights, finding that lynching and poll taxes, among other things, should be outlawed. The president responded by desegregating the military, and ordering “fair employment” in the civil service. The rest of the nation did not respond.
For now they were overlooking the whispers of those that had to stand in the hallways of society, but not for long. They would soon force the ballroom doors.

Andrew C. Abbott

No comments:

Post a Comment