Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
In Christ there is no East or West, in Christ no South or North;But one community of love throughout the whole wide earth. In Christ is neither Jew nor Greek, and neither slave nor free; For men and women live in God, and all are kindred to me.
September, 1955. First day in Austin, Texas.
I stepped onto a bus to go downtown. There I saw a strange sight. Black faces in the back and white faces in the front.
“What’s going on?” I wondered.
“How come blacks sit in the back and the whites in the front?”
Then a question popped up, “Where should I sit? In the middle? No. If I do that, I would be telling the blacks that I am better than they are and the whites I am less than they are.”
The bus started to move. I held onto the rail trying to decide. Finally I sat down behind the driver facing the doorway. I felt the stare of the passengers. Both the whites and the blacks. I looked straight out the window hoping that the bus would arrive downtown as quickly as possible.
In downtown, after an hour of sightseeing, I had to find a restroom. There were no McDonalds. No Burger Kings. No Colonel Sanders.
A block away I saw a Greyhound bus station. I rushed into the station. There I saw two signs. Whites Only on one door. Colored Only on the other. I saw no door with Browns Only sign. I was becoming desperate.
I saw a man wearing a Greyhound uniform and a cap.
“Sir,” I asked him. “Which restroom do I use?”
The Greyhound man looked puzzled. He surveyed me from top to bottom. Then his face brightened. He pointed at the wall between two signs. “There,” he said.
“But I am not a dog,” I replied.
A smile came over his face. He patted my back and said, “Young man, use the Whites Only.”
After relieving myself, I got curious. I walked into the Colored Only restroom. It smelled bad and was dirty.
“What’s going on?” I asked myself. “Abraham Lincoln spoke about a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. If all men are created equal how come America has two separate restrooms? One for Whites Only and the other for Colored Only? One clean and the other smelly?”
First Sunday in Austin, Texas
I went to a church by the campus for a morning service. People started to come in. The front rows were filling up. Back rows were filling up also. I looked to my right. I looked to my left. The people passed by my row, making a quick glance at me.
“How come people don’t sit in my row?” I mumbled.
“Do I smell?” I sniffed at my shirt. No smell.
“Do I have bad mouth odor?” I covered my mouth and nose with my hands to check my breath. No odor.
“I think I know why.” I quickly looked around. I saw no black faces. No brown faces. “Yes, that’s why. They don’t sit next to me because I am not white.”
At 10 am, a preacher entered, stood at the podium and welcomed the congregation. As the organ played the hymn, the congregation stood. I also stood surrounded by the six foot wall of giant Texans in the front and the six foot wall in the back. I couldn’t see the preacher because I was only 5 ft 6 inches.
They sang loudly with a heavy Texas drawl.
In Christ there is no east or west; in Christ no north or south.
But one community of love throughout the whole wide earth.
In Christ is neither Jew nor Greek, and neither slave nor free;
For men and women live in God, and all are kindred to me.
After the hymn, the congregation sat down with broad smile, yelling aloud, “Amen. Hallelujah.”
I sat down and closed my eyes.
June, 2014, San Jose, California
I am an old man now who sees the pearly gate glittering in the setting sun. And I am very proud to be an American. No blacks sitting in the back of a bus. No restroom for whites only and colored only. No whites only churches. A black president. Black leaders in sports, entertainment, music, … The nation of hybrids trying to make the country more equal and just. Where can you find such a country? Only in America, this is possible.