An Open Letter to Clive

The fall of 1967 is when the schools in Jefferson County were fully integrated. That same fall the number of private schools in Alabama went from 35 to over a 130.

In the fall of 1970 I entered the first grade. I was a member of the 4th fully integrated class. As I recall my mother did not mention this to me or mention to me that school had not always been this way. As far as I was concerned schools had always contained children, some were white and others were black, but I was blissfully unaware of any prior arrangement.

For twelve years I went to school with African-Americans. My mother worked at the school in the lunch room. To my memory I can never remember her saying any of the derogatory words used by others to describe African-Americans. I am not so naive to believe she never used these distasteful words, but I am fully aware she never used them in front of me.

It was only later in life that I realized how revolutionary these times were. I can recall with fondness the names of many of my African-American classmates. I cannot remember at any time having a negative experience  with any of these classmates because their skin was a different color.

While this was a wonderful introduction to another race, it certainly has not been my last. My experience with people of different races, African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and others has been positive and rewarding.

This is why I remain shocked when people like Donald Sterling and you still exist. I’m sure African-Americans are not shocked, and maybe I shouldn’t be.

I once preached a sermon it was 1992 or 1993. In it I mention how judging another by the color of their skin and being prejudice was sinful. Frankly I did not think the sermon was “news” it was  25 years after integration.  I greeted a man at the door and he said to me, “I never knew being a racist was sinful.” I wish I was making this up.

I’m never sure why things work out for me as they do. Maybe the positive environment in which I was raised had something to do with it? Maybe I have rubbed elbows with good people? Maybe I simply look for the good in others? Maybe it was God’s grace?

Clive and Donald it’s not  complicated. Jesus made it simple—- “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31).

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