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It was the best of times in the worst of times. I graduated from high school in May of 1968 at a school that had just integrated my junior year. And I think that is what struck me most. I believed in the message of Dr. King and had since I was 7 and asked my mother why there were only 3 restrooms at the Birmingham Zoo---MEN, WOMEN, and COLORED. I had played with our maid's daughter in the front yard when I was nine, in spite of my mother's admonition to play with her in the back where we would be less visible. I had said "ma'am" to her mother as I had been taught to say all adults. I really did not see race. But this was my first opportunity to publically walk the walk. My chemistry teacher asked me if I minded taking the "colored girl" (the polite term) as my lab partner in Chemistry. I told her straight out that I was not prejudiced. That was my junior year, but by my senior, there were 13 black students (up from 7 ) who had been transferred to my school and most were in the band. The The hippies and the black guys started a jazz combo and desegregation came, as it often does, through music and musicians.
In the fall I started college and by the fall of 1969 I had transferred to the University of Alabama, (Roll Tide Roll--home of the legendary Bear Bryant) and was a full fledged Jesus Freak, a Christian hippie. Some people say I still am.
I graduated in '67 at Woodlawn in Birmingham, the first integreted class there. Then I was at UA. You are right, it was the best of times in the worst of times. I don't think that our children can comprehend the immense changes that our world went through in such a short time.
They see the technology changes, but the gigantic changes in the basic tenants of the society went through such an overhaul. I still remember the morning in 1988 that was the 20th anniversaryof Bobby Kennedy's death. It was on the radio as I took him to school (age 13) and as we talked about it, he really couldn't comprehend, but it was like I was seeing it all over again.
Nam, protests, civil rights, counter culture -- if you didn't live it, it is hard to understand.