Then and Now

I grew up during a time and place where the only blacks in the schools were those working in the cafeteria.

Or in the bathrooms.



Those were the jobs available to blacks in those days.

I grew up in a time or place when parents in the burbs were afraid to send tow-headed girls to school with nappy-headed boys.

So when busing began, a crop of new schools entered the district.

Private schools.

Church schools.

Schools only white families could afford.

Blacks were not allowed.

In our classrooms.

On our playgrounds.

At our birthday parties.

Or in our churches.

A black woman taught me to

make a bed

make a biscuit

make nice

and mind my manners.

I don’t know if Thelma loved me

but I did her.

Yesterday I watched with thousands of others as a man took center stage

among some of the most powerful white men in the nation.

And it did not register with me once, not once during the entire day, that he was a black man.

I only thought of him as Mr. President.

Seemed fitting that he was speaking before a memorial  commonly referred to as The Wall That Heals.

photo by Shelby Zacharias



Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I was in Jr. High school when a young black boy named Victor came to our school. He was the first black kid to come to our school in our small town. They sat him right next to me, and I struck up a conversation. I told him I would show him around to his next class. As we walked across the campus, one of the boys in my class starting yelling the “n” word at him. I yelled back at that boy and told him to shut up, but Victor didn’t last more than three days in our school. I knew why. I was disgusted then. When I see a black President of the United States, I feel proud of how far we’ve come and it gives me hope for the future. Our country didn’t mind allowing black men to die for our country and yet we denied them a lot of basic rights for a really long time. That’s a shameful history, but a hopeful future.

    • Arid Harrison

      Simply perfect….:-)

    • Rose70

      But we are still waiting for that hopeful future.Progress is slow….love your story.

  • A65roger

    Skin, hair, eyes, even teeth are different colors. All blood is red, and it bleeds the same way. Of all the colors in our bidies, which is the one that makes the difference between life and death? In the same way, every political map shows borders between states and nations, their enclosed areas often in different artificial colors in order to draw differences. Yet I wish every political map were required, at all times, to be set aside the high resolution satellite photograph of the same area to show how the boundaries and borders do not exist in nature, nor to my way of thinking in the heart and mind of God. It is the very colors of the surface of the land, the various greens, beiges and browns, the waters, the mountains, the plants, the soils, the clouds that breathe the grace and life of God into creation. I don’t see much about winners and losers in Jesus’ high priestly prayer in the gospel according to John. But I see the fervent prayer that we all may be one. All blood is red, and we all bleed the same way.

  • Tim

    Beautifully put, Karen. So is Shelby’s picture.