To the editor:
Reading Mark Hounsell’s column, “Not everything is black or white” brought back many memories of the 1960s for me concerning African-Americans and life in general in the ’60s!
As a member of the class of 1963 at Kennett High School the following are some of my memories: Unlike Mark, we had no African-American speakers at Madison Grammar School or my four years at Kennett. We should have!
In between college stints, I served in the U.S. Navy (1967-70). As I look back on those days — especially today — the Navy was segregated, in my boot camp company, no African-Americans, then at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, no African-Americans, and then at NAS Atsugi, Japan, no African-Americans and then working as a yeoman (office person) in my division aboard the U.S.S. Bonne Homme Richard (CVA-31), no African-Americans!
But when I grew tired of listening to career military folks talk and went on to the bomb-pushing crew, yup, you guessed it, African-Americans. Were African-Americans slaves even in the Navy during that time period? Probably so.
During my bomb-pushing career, I found that the whites were lazy, but that my African-American compadres just did their job and got on with it.
One of my friends from the Navy lived in Memphis and I visited him several times there and found over the years that his father was extremely prejudiced, using the N-word frequently, until our California friend showed up. Was it because he came from a liberal state that he didn’t use the N-word? Probably so, as I don’t feel the man had a change of heart.
Unfortunately, as we sit firmly in the 21st century, prejudice still exists and there are many “Black Lives Matter” protests. Things are not what they should be. Hopefully, in the years to come, things will get better, as they should.
- Category: Letters