In the car on the way up to sit with Mom, I switched on the radio today and tuned in to live coverage of the fifty year anniversary March on Washington. I remember the 1963 March of Washington, but I was young and didn’t pay all that much attention to the Civil Rights movement. Civil Rights were words in the news, but out on the farm, I was an innocent who had very little understanding of why people were marching on Washington. Most of the adults around me were simply worried violence was going to break out or that it was somehow going to change their world. But things needed to change and I think the Lord sent the right man to lead the marches and get those changes started in a peaceful way. Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech has a permanent place in the history of our country.
Our schools were integrated in 1963. It seems strange now to think about how long it took for the school system to allow all the kids in our county to go to school near where they lived. I don’t remember worrying about it. I also had no idea of the struggles many of the blacks had faced as they marched to have the same rights as other citizens of the country.
Years later, I wrote my Hollyhill books set in the 1960’s, and while researching the era, I learned what an innocent I had been. So in my second Hollyhill book, Orchard of Hope, I let Jocie be that innocent young girl who thinks everybody has the freedom to do whatever they want and who is confronted with the truth of prejudice. I wrote about a family moving into an area of the Holly County where black people didn’t normally live. Myra, the mother in the family had ridden the Freedom Trains and been arrested. She’d taken her children to marches and because of that, one of the children, Cassidy, developed deep fears. Cassidy is one of the viewpoint characters in the story and I think her fearful innocence contrasted against Jocie’s unaware innocence deepen the story line. Orchard of Hope is due to be re-released with this new cover in October. It seems to be right on time with the anniversary of the Washington March this year.
Some of you are old enough to remember that time too. What do you remember about that March on Washington?