March 3, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. Not much has been happening here in Hollyhill. School. Basketball games. We actually won one game in the District Tournament. So we had lots of basketball pictures in the Hollyhill Banner. Even one of Valerie jumping up and cheering. I felt especially generous taking that picture. Valerie thinks she’s so cute that it makes me sick, but it was a good picture of her actually cheering the team on. I can’t help it if her hair did look a little messed. A little. She’ll probably corner me the day after the paper comes out and demand we print a retraction. Her hair does not get messed up!!
But there was plenty of news this time last year when Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson, the Jackie Robinson who played Major League Baseball, came to lead a march on Frankfort to try to get a Civil Rights bill passed. 10,000 people came from all over the state to march on the Capital to convince Governor Breathitt to push a bill that had been introduced in the General Assembly but was stuck in committee. It didn’t work. The bill didn’t pass and so in some places blacks still can’t eat inside restaurants or stay at hotels. The day of the march last year the sun was shining but it was cold with sleet and snow flurries coming down at times. That’s March weather for you.
Anyway, thousands of people, black
and white, lined the avenue to watch the Mr. Robinson and Reverend King lead the demonstrators down Capitol Avenue. After walking four blocks, the speakers made it up the Capitol steps to the platform, where Peter, Paul and Mary were singing. Dad went down to Frankfort that day and wrote up something about it for the next week’s paper. Of course all the big city papers had already reported it by then.
I read all the reports and saw the pictures, but I really didn’t get it until Noah moved to Holly County and began working for Dad on the paper last summer. He knew all about the Civil Rights march because his mother used to ride the Freedom Train in the south. Noah was even part of the Children’s March in Birmingham. He said I didn’t know anything about Civil Rights and how it felt to be discriminated against because his skin was black. And he was right.
But I was interested in hearing his story. Dad was too, but he had to make sure Noah knew what kind of paper the Banner was. Here’s an excerpt from Orchard of Hope.
“You might not like what I wrote,” Noah told Dad when he asked him if he wanted to write something about school.
“Then I wouldn’t print it.” Dad fastened his eyes on Noah. “We might as well get one thing clear right at the beginning, Noah. The Banner is just a small-town paper. We put out one issue per week. We’re here to serve the community by reporting on what happens in Hollyhill and Holly County. We don’t do national news like what Congress is up to or what’s happening in Vietnam unless it has a local handle, such as one of our Hollyhill boys flying the bombers over North Vietnam or one of our senators coming through town. If something like that happens, it would be front-page news for the Banner. But we leave the rest of the national and state news to the daily papers out of Lexington and Louisville.”
“So how do you sell papers if you don’t have anything much to write about?” Noah asked.
“We manage,” Dad said. “Folks here want to read about what happens in town and at the schools. They like seeing their pictures or their kids’ pictures in the paper.”
“Sounds pretty dull,” Noah said. “I thought newspapers tried to come up with controversial stories to keep people interested.”
“I don’t print stories to stir up trouble just for the sake of stirring up trouble.”
“But sometimes trouble needs to be stirred up in order to get wrongs righted,” Noah said.
I don’t think there would be any doubt that if Noah and his family had been living in Holly County last March, they would have been in that crowd marching on the Capital. At least Noah and his mother would have been. Last year, she helped turn us around here in Hollyhill on some of the things we should have been doing differently.
I can’t tell the whole story here, but you can read all about it in Orchard of Hope. Myra Hearndon is quite a woman. Somebody who makes a difference. That’s how I want to be when I grow up. I want to do things that matter. I don’t know what, but Dad says that’s okay. The Lord will guide me to the right things if I let him.
How about you? You ever march for something you believe needs to happen? And do you think papers like the Hollyhill Banner filled with local news are good or plain boring?
Oh yeah, and I’ve got to announce the winner of my blog contest. Sharon is the winner. She’ll get her choice of one of my books. Thanks a bunch to all of you who left comments and entered to win a book. Maybe we’ll do it again soon.