Monday, February 1, 2010

February 1, 2010

         Howell Raines reminds us in today's New York Times that it was
just fifty years ago today--February 1st, 1960--that four young college
students sat down at a Woolworth's dime store lunch counter in Greensboro,
N.C. for coffee and donuts. They were refused service because they were
black.      The four--Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, Jr., David Richmond and
Joe McNell--politely declined to move when they were refused service,
became part of history and with others in the civil rights
movement--preachers and students mostly, as I recall-- helped change
America.      It happened quickly.  The Civil Rights Act passed in 1964
after a bitter filibuster in the U.S. Senate;  the Voting Rights Act passed
in '65;  the first black student was elected to the homecoming court at the
University of Alabama in 1969.  It changed politics, leading in the South
not to coalitions of white and black moderates, but to a new conservatism,
not Democratic like the old Solid South, but focused on social issues and
supportive of politicians like Ronald Reagan. Which may just prove that
integration, like politics, sometimes makes strange bedfellows.      I
suspect almost everyone, including Southern whites, would agree now that
ending segregation was a good thing.  It brought investment and high tech
jobs to the region.  It may also have brought Tea Parties, but hey, that's
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