And I Cried A Tear

Several years ago I tried to explained to my daughter how race relations influenced my life. I spoke to her about my younger days while I was in school and then my days as an organizer in the civil rights movement.

I explained to her that at one time we had separate schools. And that the goal of the school for minorities was to educate children just enough to read. And worse yet that when Brown vs. Board of Education went into effect it became the goal of school counselors to encourage minority students to quit school at around the sixth through ninth grade.

I explained to her that in my school days talking Spanish on school grounds was punishable by expulsion and/or corporal punishment. I told her about the time when I was in seventh grade and required to take a foreign language elective. I elected to take Spanish. Well one day as we were filing into the classroom a friend shouted to me “Hola”, which is the Spanish word for Hello. Naturally I responded with a resounding “Hola”. My white friend was not punished. I was given three whacks with a paddle in front of the classroom for talking Spanish in the hallway.

My daughter responded with “Oh Dad, that’s history”. Down deep inside I cried a tear.

At some point I tried to explain to my daughter about my work with organizations fighting for civil rights. I explained to her about organizations like LULAC, The American GI Form, NAACP, Image and MALDF, about the Mexican/American caucus in Austin.

My daughter looked at me and said “Dad, that doesn’t happen any more.” Down deep inside I cried a tear.

November 4, 2008 ABC’s Charles Gibson said “the polls in California have closed and ABC News will now project that Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States”. A black man had just been elected President of the United States, I cried a tear.

I cried a tear for all we had just lost. The bigotry, the lies, the hate. All gone. My daughter was right, it is just history now. Every thing we did, the boycotts, the marches, the demonstrations, the sit ins all were history. My youthful actions of civil disobedience at last vindicated and I cried a tear.

I am still crying as I make note of this memory. But they are tears of joy and relief. My daughter and your sons and daughters will never know the feeling of being a second class citizen. Yes I cried a tear.

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Pancho Villa - a bleeding heart liberal Revolutionary.

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trish1048 8 years ago

A very moving story.

It puzzles me why we keep hearing we now have a black president. He is also half white, but I don't hear anyone saying we have a new white president. It sickens me. While we have come a long way, there are many, many miles to go, and I doubt we'll see true equality in all aspects of life in our lifetime.

Thanks so much for sharing.

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