For many who fought in the civil rights movement, the tragedy in Charlottesville, Va., has reopened wounds and raised questions about a nation they thought they knew.
The rise of the monster of racism has driven Myrlie Evers to tears.
“I am in a state of despair, hurt, anger and disbelief that we are at this point in America — again,” said Myrlie Evers, whose husband, Medgar, was assassinated in 1963 by a white supremacist.
“Again,” she repeated, as if hardly believing the word. “Again.”
The scenes in Charlottesville have resurrected scenes of pain in her life when a coward shot her husband in the back in the driveway of their home, and the children rushed out, crying for their father to get up, she said. “All of these things are just flashing back.”
In 1994, she finally saw her husband’s assassin convicted, and a year later, she was elected to chair the national NAACP, helping bring the historic civil rights organization back from the brink of bankruptcy.
Long retired, she believed she had come to a point in her life where her work was done.
“I’m 84 years of age, and I’m thankful for my life,” she said. “In my prayers, I ask, ‘God, is it ever over? Must we continue to go through this horrible nightmare of prejudice, racism and hatred all over again?’ “
She choked up.
“My heart is full, and I don’t know what to do,” she said. “I never thought I’d be in this place again. I thought I had come through the muddy waters and come out the other side.”
Now she wonders whether she is being called again to service. “If we don’t step forward,” she said, “we have no one to blame but ourselves for what the end may be.”
In recent days, the Rev. John Perkins has spent much of his time on the telephone, counseling pastors and students at the University of Virginia, where white supremacists protested.
“Real commitment,” he told the students, “is doing things you don’t like to do in the face of fear.”
After getting off the phone, the author of Dream With Me: Race, Love and the Struggle We Must Win,” remarked that what happened in Charlottesville is a pivotal moment in history.
The brutality he saw on television made him think back to the brutality he endured in a Mississippi jail in 1970 at the hands of law enforcement because of his civil rights activism.
In that moment, if he had had a grenade, he would have pulled the pin and killed them all, he said.
He sensed their hate, and now he began to realize his own toward them, he said. “I saw that I was just as bad as them. Then I saw that we both were broken.”
He said there needs to be a discussion about Confederate monuments because some have ancestors who fought in the war and others have ancestors who were enslaved by that cause.
He is reminded of the violence that surrounded the 1962 admission of James Meredith, where a French journalist penned the words, “The Civil War never came to an end.”
Hours later, that journalist, Paul Guihard, was one of the two casualties in an evening where more than 160 federal marshals were injured while protecting James Meredith, who was attempting to become the first known black student at the all-white university.
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Source: USA Today