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  • Taking a Stand


    My family is a rainbow. My grandfather on my father’s side was Irish, my grandmother was Blackfoot. But there’s also Cherokee, African Black on my mother’s side.

    Raised in the north, at 17, I was travelling with my southern-born parents and sibling to visit my father’s relatives in Arkansas. Dad stopped to get gas where we waited and waited without anyone coming out to pump the gas, much less clean the windows, or check the tire pressure. Very humid and hot temperatures caused me to seek a water fountain, only to find 2 fountains– one labeled “white only” and the other “colored only.”

    I’d never encountered the likes of segregation, but my parents had experienced it all of their lives. And not wanting me to be raised in that environment, they moved from Memphis to Gary, Indiana. There I encountered a different type of racism– Hungarians who were called the “H” word. They called them Honkies instead of Hungarian. I could see the pain on their faces whenever they heard this word, and it made me feel embarrassed for them. My father was a minister, and our home was always the welcome place for diversity. He soaked up the pain of all people. Every Sunday, all sorts of people from the steel mill where he worked and elsewhere came to eat our chicken and collard greens, and peach cobbler.

    As I moved to drink from the clean fountain rather than the dirty one that day, my father very sternly yelled, “Don’t do that daughter! The other one is for us.” As the service station owner stood in the doorway, arms folded, and a grimace on his face, I chose to drink from the clean fountain.

    All Together Now, a national StoryLab Project sponsored by the Center for Digital Storytelling, engages communities and individuals by using first-person stories to increase awareness of civil and human rights.

    As the world marks the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Justice, All Together Now seeks to honor the legacy and impact of civil and human rights movements of the 1950s to the present day by collecting intergenerational and global stories of civil and human rights.

    Stories will be shared in educational contexts, museums/public exhibitions, and community conversations around the world. The stories compiled in this project will support those who see themselves at the center of our collective story of social justice.

    Contact us at atn@storycenter.org to set up your own All Together Now event in your city, upload your stories to the project on Cowbird, and join in!

    – StoryCenter
    www.storycenter.org
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