Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Do I Understand Civil Rights?

I suspect this quest begin when I was quite young. Even though Perrin was a small town, we had different cultures. And you've heard me speak of the Hispanic family that were truly our best friends. When I was in high school I went to Brazil. I loved the Brazilian culture - enjoyed meeting my life long friend Luciana (she grew up in Nova Iguacu, and lives in Orlando now), and a fellow missionary Yoshia Tagomi. Also that summer I went on an FHA trip and my assigned seat for dinner several evenings was with the New York State delegation and I remember most of the people at our table were people of color. I also have a picture from the trip of me with a couple of people I met, one of which was a black guy.

Different cultures do not effect (or affect)  me at all. Sometimes I do find myself intrigued at our differences.

However I can be a bit naive. All of those discussions in the education classes - and the discussion was in EVERY education class - never really struck a nerve. It seemed too far away & almost irrelevant.

Brown vs Board of Education - the ruling came in 1954 but even during my birth year (1964) the process of desegregation was "minuscule" (Yoder, Kirp, Levin & Moran, 2002).  Yoder et al also surmised that Brown awakened the groups and for the first time blacks could see the possibility of removing the discrepancy between the supposed rights & actual rights. Their awakening led to confrontations between civil rights groups & southern political leadership. The confrontations then led to the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act (Yoder et al, 2002).

Brown began because a family wanted their daughter to go to school closer to their home. I never thought about it from its origin. A seven year old girl and her family wanting her to go to school - closest to their hone and she couldn't because of the color of her skin.

My husband's father went to school in Wichita Falls, Texas. He graduated from high school after 1954 but tells us he never played football or went to school with "colored" until college. And while in college in the late 1950s he shared that many hotels & restaurants would not serve the athletes who were black. My father in law remembers them sleeping on the bus and sitting in the kitchen (rather than the restaurant area) to eat. He also remembers joining them in the kitchen - after all "they were his teammates".

Almost 2 years ago I wrote about Son One living in Alabama (January 16, 2012). I enjoyed seeing the historic places first hand - the Montgomery Bus Boycott (Rosa Parks was just tired), the church where MLK, Jr. preached ..... These places were interesting.

This year I had the opportunity to travel to Memphis.  I am really not much of a traveler - but this was a work trip and my sister in law and I journeyed to Tennessee.  I knew very little of Memphis but I did my research before we left.  Of course there is Elvis' home - we got to see it from the street but it wasn't open when we were finished with our training.

We visited Sun Studios - the place where Elvis was first recorded.  It is a small little building on a main street in Memphis but it certainly wasn't what we expected.

We went to Beale Street.  I (being that same naive person) did not realize the significance of Beale street - it was cold, cold, cold and we were 2 of about 20 that ventured out that evening.  But evidently when the weather is pretty the street is lined with people.  The Memphis police still block off the street - even when there is a small group!

The music of Beale street - the essence of a huge part of the history of Memphis is another blog on another day - but I found perhaps my favorite type of music!  Perhaps that is why the next place is etched is this soul for a lifetime.

The Song As One Walks up to 306

photo credit, grace4greta, december 11, 2013

Please take a moment and listen to the amazing voice singing Precious Lord.  That is the voice I heard as we walked up to the hotel.  The hotel featured at the National Civil Rights Museum.

The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

April 4, 1968 - the day the hotel became famous.

Photo credit, grace4greta, december 11, 2013

We had the privilege to speak with the security guard on duty that evening.  He grew up in Memphis - he heard Dr. King speak - his uncle was at the hotel that evening.

Do you know why Dr. King was in Memphis?

An excerpt from his speech on the night of April 3, 1968:

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memphis, Tennessee)
When Son One was in Montgomery he had a friend who was a friend to Morris Dees.  Dees is a civil rights attorney.  Son One mentioned that he had litigated some well known civil rights cases.

I am currently reading Mr. Dees autobiography.  It is a perfect account of the historical moments in the history of civil rights in our country.  I have learned a great deal.  And he begins the book - not talking about race issues between whites & blacks but instead issues between whites & Vietnamese ….. in Texas nonetheless.  Quite interesting.

However I still wonder….. Do I understand civil rights?  Do I know what it is like to be treated differently because of something I cannot control - something I did not do - something that just is?

Morris Dees (2013) stated being oblivious to the suffering of others is at the root of racism.  

I can recall:

-While growing up - others disliking me because of decisions my dad would make.

-Some choosing to not consider me "family" because I was adopted and not the birth child of my parents.

Those hardly seem significant now.  And they truly are not EXCEPT…..

The recollection of my feelings during those times - that is what I need to recall so that I do not become oblivious.

Civil Rights - Racism - Hatred - Prejudice - whatever word we use the problem or the root is quite simple.

We fail to LOVE.

We fail to remember what His word commands us to do.

I Peter 4:8

Perhaps understanding Civil Rights is to understand Love.

Perhaps I do know more than I thought.

Now the challenge

Do I practice that Love?

Always, May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Parts of Speech

Again lately I have been reminded that our God inhabits praise.  One of the reminders was a message came on a Facebook post by a friend.  This friend is the oldest daughter of the preacher that we listened to each Sunday morning when we lived in East Texas.

"I haven't forgotten to be thankful in the last few days but as I watched so many people struggle with circumstances in various situations, I had to ponder the various meanings behind thankfulness. Scripture says that God inhabits the praises of His people....."

I have written before about Russ Taff's song with the Imperials - "Praise the Lord".  Always before I have concentrated on praising Him and how my life will be if I choose to praise Him.

That's good.

But what about God inhabiting praise?

My OCD behavior caused me to start thinking about the use of praise in this phrase that has stuck in my head.  Our God inhabits praise.  I decided - with the help of my mom - that praise in this case is a gerund.  So what other words might we use in that sentence - let's leave out the subject for now and ponder….

We inhabit worry.
We inhabit busy-ness.
We inhabit socializing.
We inhabit reading, talking, playing, watching, and that list could go on and on….
We inhabit ___________

Wherever we live or dwell - are we there with Him?

If He dwells (or lives in) praise……. how can we do the same?

Let's multitask!  In the midst of our lives - in the midst of our worry, busy-ness, socializing, talking, shopping, planning, reading, visiting, learning, working - whatever we are doing ---- let's also be praising Him.

We know that God inhabits praise.  So praising Him must be the constant in life.  And even though the seasons change outside my mom's backdoor

our behaviors, our core cannot change.

Always, May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14.