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Georgia Finally Integrates

April 23, 2007

I grew up in a middle class suburb of Atlanta. I read Gone With the Wind for the first time in 5th grade, and wept at Scarlett’s bad choices. I enjoy Southern food, Southern hospitality, sweet tea and kids running barefoot outside. When I hear Ray Charles’ recording of Georgia on My Mind and think of the moonlight on the pines, it brings back fond memories.

My grandmother and grandfather were baptized together as teenagers in a “warsh” hole made by damming up a small creek. They were double cousins (no, that’s not blood related–her aunt married his uncle). Grandma dropped out of school after 8th grade to go to work so her sister could continue in school. They were dirt poor, but she is one of the most industrious women I know. Having worked hard to create a better life for her children, she never lost sight of her values and belief in God and His ability to change people.

I remember when Jimmy Carter won the presidency. I was a child and didn’t know about the politics…but I was proud he was from Georgia. In sixth grade, several students got to eat lunch with the Governor when he toured our school. I was one of them. We had fried chicken that day, and to be polite, we all tried to eat fried chicken with plastic forks. It didn’t work out that well, and I think the Governor himself was relieved when we went to the finger-lickin’-good way of doing things.

Georgia football is pretty much the best football there is. There is nothing like watching the Silver Britches hunker down ‘tween the Hedges. I marched in the band at UGA. Long before I got there, someone made a stink about the band playing Dixie, so they switched to playing Tara’s Theme, from Gone With the Wind. Sweet Georgia Brown was another staple for the after game show.

Atlanta has become a city of opportunity and growth. While I do not support the lottery, Georgia has made good choices with their profits–enabling students to attend college through the HOPE scholarship. When education, income, housing and other ways of measuring one’s standard of living are calculated, Georgia fares much better than many of her counterparts in the Southeast United States.

Yet for all my love of Georgia, I am amazed and embarrassed that Ashburn, GA found ways to avoid integration until the year 2007. Read the details here. It is unbelievable to me that in this day and age, a county can have separate proms and homecoming kings and queens based on race. Here is an example of a place where “separate but equal” is still being practiced. It seems to me this is a lot worse than the Imus incident of a few weeks ago that everyone was up in arms about.

My husband and I have been fortunate enough to travel to many parts of the world, meeting many people along the way. The hopes, dreams, feelings and needs of people are basically the same–God, food, water, shelter, clothing, family, friendship.

A Kazakh child crying in an orphanage feels the same emotional loss as an Eastern European child abandoned by her mother. A black child with a scraped knee feels the same pain as a white child. A man without a job, unable to support his family, has the same feelings of shame and loss of respect for himself. A woman watching her daughter or son marry feels the same love. A couple, watching their newborn enter the world, feels a similar pride and joy.

I know there are enormous humanly insurmountable problems throughout the world. I probably should be happy that this town is stepping in the right direction. But, frankly, it is without comprehension that despite how far American society has come, we still have areas where it is okay, yea even normal, to practice racial discrimination.

I long for the day, and at this point am convinced it will only be in heaven as we fall at the feet of Jesus, when people will love and care for one another without regard to race. There, we will be too busy worshipping God to care about skin color.

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