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How Far We've Come

Our country has come a long way in my lifetime. We have a long, long way to go,

One of the strongest memories I have as a child occurred more than 70 years ago. I grew up as a white girl in Fort Worth, Texas. Every Saturday we would dress up, ride the bus into town to shop and have lunch. This day would be the first time I would get myself in trouble with my mother over prejudice but it would not the last. 

I don't remember how old I was, not very, maybe 5 or 6. I was thirsty and wanted to get a drink. We went to the water fountain. Side by side were two water fountains. White and “colored”. Of course the “colored” was broken. 

There was another mother there with her thirsty child. She had to tell him he couldn't have a drink because the water fountain was broken. I told him to get a drink out of the working fountain. My mother first tried to explain to me things neither my head or heart would ever understand. I've always had a mouth and  would not shut up and accept that a kid, just like me, had to go thirsty because his skin was a different color than mine. 

Finally exasperated, she dragged me by the hair of the head to the lunch counter, which was segregated too. I guess I had never noticed that before either. Round 2. Then of course there was the restroom. Hadn't noticed that either. Round 3.  

The point is life was more than deplorable for black citizens that worked hard, paid their taxes, loved their children. Over the years I spoke up when faced with situations I felt unfair, but I could have and should have, done more. I wish I had. The mouth of a child 60 something years ago seems insignificant when compared with those who have given their lives.

Maybe now we will come together to make life better for all, especially the children so that every child grows up strong, and tall, with great self esteem. Only then will “This is my country” be more than just a song.

Cecelia 2009

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