Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The World in Black and White

When my second oldest daughter, Lindsey, was looking through old photos of me, she was struck by the difference between pictures of herself with her brother and sisters and photos of me with my sisters.

"Will all my pictures turn to black and white when I get older too?" she asked.

That memory surfaced while I was grocery shopping with one of my granddaughters the weekend before the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday last year. I had told my (then) six-year-old granddaughter, Audrey, about how Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for peace, and that Martin Luther King, Jr. was the reason her school was celebrating the holiday by giving her the day off.

The following Monday, when she was home from school celebrating the holiday with a day off, her mom and I watched Oprah's tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. as Oprah reviewed racism over a 25-year period.  In one segment, Oprah showed the Little Rock 9 school integration of 1957.

I pointed at the television and said, "When I was your age, Audrey, that's the way the world was back then." 

When Audrey looked at the segment, she cocked her head, furrowed her brow, and asked, "You had no color?"

The more I thought about these two situations, I remembered that color had come to television sets at about the same time the country was instituting integration. I couldn't help but draw a correlation.

In a sense the world had no color, because whites dismissed the black race. When new color TVs entered the home, "colored people," as we referred to them back then, entered white schools at around the same time.


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