Many years ago, before children, we were active in the civil rights struggles of the 60's and early 70's. For us these memories lie just around the last past corner--still fresh in memories. Monumental moments and experiences seem not to lose freshness as time moves on. Some things just seem telescoped in time.
Living in Orange County, California in those days meant that the ultra-conservative, racist John Birch Society and the latent Ku Klus Klan were powerful influences in many civic affairs and political foci of the day. People of color other than provable white were not welcomed. Prejudices and thought of racial superiority were rampant. Crosses were burned in lawns and painted on garages.
Such thoughts and actions were abhorrent to us, leading us to become involved in activities designed to open doors and break barriers. One of the activities which we were particularly committed to and involved in was the concept of Open Housing--where all people are welcome into housing and communities regardless of racial and ethnic identity.
Our first adventure began by meeting with an African-American couple to learn what their experiences had been as they sought housing in the area to which they had just relocated. They were engineers with impressive credentials from prestigious schools. Their company had transferred them to Southern California.
As we talked, they shared their frustrations as apartment manager after manager claimed that advertised units were no longer available. Not for a minute did they or we believe that this was true. The message was clear--people of color were not acceptable neighbors in Orange County. We clearly were living in a defined and carefully maintained segregated area of the country.
We joined a cadre of people who worked together to make change. The routine was that a family seeking a place to live would approach a rental office which advertised available apartments. If they were turned down--which was almost always the case--we would immediately go to that office and inquire about renting.
If we were told that there were available apartments, we would leave and shortly return with the people who had been rejected. Together we would face down the manager. Sometimes this worked and the apartment miraculously was ready and waiting, but, more often the confrontation opened the way to filing complaints with appropriate government authorities. Eventually such efforts resulted in Fair Housing Laws with substantial penalties for discriminatory housing practices.
I was reminded of these days in the past when I read this article last week--Voices Reflect Rising Sense of Racial Optimism. Is it possible that changes are happening outside those that come from the hammer of law? Can the presence of President Obama make a difference in how people see each other? It's a lot to hope for and we must wait to see if this is so. But..we can hope and pray.
God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.