In a previous blog, I mentioned I was reading Greg Iles book, Natchez Burning. This book is set in Mississippi during the current times and in the late 1960″s. In trying to keep his dad out of prison, Penn Cage, has to go back to 1968 to solve the crime. This period was set during the heated time of the civil rights movement. Mississippi was a powder keg ready to explode with all the tension. There is talk in the book of the Klan, the treatment of blacks, and even the prominent people of the day. Pres. Kennedy, his brother, Bobby, and Martin Luther King play a role in this storyline. I have been able to understand this.
As a 17 yr. old white girl, born and raised in Memphis, Tn., I was aware of the black people and the struggle going on. It was not always easy. There were times when it was scary. This book tells of the killing of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King. I remember that day, April 4, 1968 very well. I had graduated from high school and had a job working at Campbell’s Clinic, an orthopedic hospital. In order to get home each day, I would ride the bus from the clinic and transfer to bus downtown that took me home. On this particular day, I had not heard any news about the assassination of King. I got off work and got on the bus. It was on the bus that the driver told us about the killing and that the routes for outgoing buses would be different. I remember getting off the bus and walking to where I would take the bus going home. It was a frightful scene, indeed, as I saw blacks with angry faces walking down the middle of the street. They were throwing bricks, screaming and yelling obscenities. There was even a wagon that went by that had a burning effigy. I was so terrified. I remember praying that I would get home safely that night. I was so glad when I got on the bus. After a 10 min. wait, it was with sheer relief when the bus drove out of downtown and headed to the outskirts of the city.
We have come a long way since that day in 1968. Things are good, but as with everything, they could be better. I have learned a lot since that day. I have learned that there is good and bad in all of us. I have learned that we all need understanding and tolerance. And I have learned that we should all treat each other with respect.