Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Am a Hoosier

Kathy Guthrie
Field Program Secretary, FCNL
Guest Blogger

I am a Hoosier, born in Terre Haute, Indiana. I learned to demonstrate for social justice and sing "We shall overcome" when I was at Indiana University in 1964. I carried a sign protesting George Wallace's sweep through Indiana, the state where the KKK had a very healthy existence. I feared that my grandfather would see my face on the TV news from Indianapolis. Though I loved him, he was the most bigoted person I knew. I gained my equilibrium by discussing civil rights and doing the right thing with my Quaker great aunt, who named her daughter, my closest cousin, after Susan B Anthony. Yesterday, three generations of my aunt's family voted in Indiana, repudiating the racist attitudes that are still very much alive in my home state.

As I watched the beautiful African American family on the TV screen last night, I could only remember the faces I saw on television of those who linked arms and sang "We shall overcome" in the spring of 1965. I feel lucky to live in such a time.

When I recall of the words of Dr. King, I think of my two biracial children and 4 African American grandchildren. Their mother voted for the first time yesterday. She was so excited about Pennsylvania that she sent me a text message saying, "I guess it pays to vote."

Why am I looking forward to the future? Our new president-elect has said that a lesson of his election is "what we can achieve to put [our] hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day." In memory of my aunt, and in honor of all of my grandchildren, I sincerely hope we will work together to bend that arc.


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