The small town I group up in was idyllic. My grandparents had each moved there, met, and married in the 1920s, my granddaddy a businessman, my grandmother an English teacher. They raised their kids there through the 1940s and 50s. And it’s where I grew up in the 1970s and early 80s. It really was a near-perfect place to grow up, with red brick streets on which my friends and I rode our bikes all around the town. We made a raft and fished down at the creek. There were carnivals and town picnics and parades, and everybody looked out for everybody.
But my town had a secret—a secret lived right out in the open but never talked about. My idyllic small town was segregated, even in the 1980s. There was a section of town literally across the railroad tracks called Morningside. It was established in the 1920s as a place for black workers in the cotton fields to have homes and something of a community away from the white folks. Problem is, it never changed. No African-American really had the option of living in the town proper. They all still lived in Morningside. The powers that be liked things the way they were. So even through the civil rights victories in the 60s and 70s, and in the “morning in America” of the 80s, the institutional racism was still deeply entrenched in small towns and large cities throughout the country. It still is, of course. But all I knew was that I didn’t play with my black classmates after school, on weekends, or in the summer. They went to their side of the tracks and I stayed on mine. That’s just the way things were. And aren’t those the words that most often keep us—as individuals and as communities—from becoming all we might be: “That’s just the way things are.” Read More
[This post is part of an Easter series: President [fill in the blank] and King Jesus.]
My lowest grade in college was in Art Appreciation, so I really don’t have any authority to say what I’m about to say. But…I’ve concluded that most of the art that shows up if I do a search for Jesus’ ascension serves to hinder my ability to follow him rather than to help it. For example, doesn’t this make Jesus look less like the king of the world and more like Peter Pan? Read More