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There are so many stories to be told of intentional, peaceful and thoughtful actions by those who stood against the concept of one color or heritage being less than another’s by birthright. My father taught me such principles by living without fear and embracing all equally as children of God. I was a teenager when we moved back from Africa to rural Va in 1967. Dad had many job offers, but accepted one at less pay with more responsibilities. I knew he wanted us to be a bit closer to extended family. As a senior in high school I suddenly realized why they chose what I thought was Hicksville. The clincher was we were in one of 2 school systems in Va. that was integrated by choice and not court orders. I never once saw a segregation sign in stores or restaurants in our area. They just thought the added cost of busing black kids only to other schools hurt education for all. The area is 90% white and that school board put the savings into a new school buildings plan. Those same new high schools built in the 60s are still the only high schools in the county. That correctly thought out planning positively benefitted several generations. My kids and a few of my grandkids have walked those same halls, played sports on the same fields and gyms. Friends made in school were then those parents we shared the seats with encouraging our kids in sport. Now I see my kids cheering on the grands with so many of their friends made while in school. This is surely the dream Mr. King spoke of being lived out. Actions mold character and I am proud that my folks lived their lives to mold my heart in positive ways. As an adult my work travels often put me in contact with racism and we have had the KKK harass our family. My parents instilled the courage, candor and character to live life in hope. We are all certainly in a better place today and history shows us we need never go back to the not so good ole days. Let us not live in fear of history but rather embrace the truth of positive changes and celebrate each culture with the joys each bring.

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