Traveling in the Jim Crow South

When I was about eight years old, my mom took my sisters and me by train, from Norfolk, Va. To Kinston, NC. If I remember correctly, my youngest sister was just a baby. They were all in one row and it was too crowded for me to fit in. So I sat in the row directly behind them. The rows held about three people each. Sitting in my row next to the window was a young black lady probably about 30 years of age. She seemed to keep her focus on what she saw from the window view and not on who she just saw sit in the same row as her. At this particular time in our nation, especially in these states, this was not usually done. The oldest of my sisters asked my mom if I had to sit there. She was only four but knew enough as to how the social mores worked. I told her and my mom that I was fine. When she started to say something to my mom a second time, I repeated what I had just said, but this time harsher and showing a look of anger. My mom said it was fine.

 The young lady, though, had a different look. She had a look of controlled defiance, but also looked genuinely upset. I’m sure, looking back on this, that this was not the first time this had happened to her, but now with a little boy! All because I was white, she could have been forced to change her seat. She sat in that seat until her stop without a word or a glance. I, on the other hand, was embarrassed to the point that my face was flushed and hot. I didn’t do anything wrong, but I was ashamed. The fact that anyone had that kind of power, especially just because of the color of your skin, should cause you to feel shame. As she got up to walk past me when she got off, she glanced at me. The look on her face had not changed. Impassive. Stoic. Yet her eyes betrayed the hurt she was hiding. How long would injustice like this continue?

 I never forgot this episode in my life. Maybe, and hopefully, God was using this to instill something in me that I’d never forget. If you can’t show Christ in you, how can you effectively represent Him in any way? I, and all of us, fall short of His glory and can so easily be terrible examples of a God that says we are all His children. It does not take someone to preach a prophetic message to get people to realize what is happening in our world today. Turn on the TV. Read a paper. Listen to some of the vile things said by people within earshot or just spouting an opinion and finding nothing offensive in what they say even though it is littered with filth. Colossians 3:8 says “put off all anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language from your mouth.” But it also says in Matthew 12:34, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” If wrong thoughts are in you, they will eventually come out. Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it springs all the issues of life.

Craig, Kenny and Dr. King

On April 4, 1968, I was riding in a car with a couple of friends going to get a cup of coffee at Walls Dairy in East Hampton, Ct. It was starting to get dark, and as we approached the intersection of N. Maple St. and W. High St., we saw someone in the middle of the road. He looked distraught and angry. He was pacing back and forth and appeared to be talking. We slowed down, for in order to go past we would have had to go out of our lane to do so. I then recognized him and said “ Stop and let me out. It’s Craig.” He not only appeared to be emotionally hurting, but angry. He wanted to release some of his justified anger on the first person who might yell at him to get out of the middle of the road. I walked up to him and put my hand on his shoulder. His eyes were filled with rage, but when he saw me he quieted a bit. I asked him what was wrong. He replied, “They killed Dr. King.”

I knew what the word “they” meant. I asked him to walk with me to the side of the road and we then walked down the back road to Wall’s Dairy while we talked. No matter how bad I felt, or how bad I felt for him, there was no way I could truly feel the depth of his pain. I am white and Craig was a black man. But we were friends, and there was a degree of trust between us. We talked for quite awhile and shared stories. I asked him to come with me and get a cup of coffee, but he said he just wanted to go home. I gave him a hug at a point in my life when guys didn’t hug other guys. I so felt his anguish. We always remained friends and he was by my house many times for poker night.

I realized the importance of Dr. King ~ not because of what I read, or watching the news, or especially from adults in my early formative years ~ but from my interest in this good man. I had heard him speak on TV, but in actuality I may have heard but didn’t understand the depth and significance of what he was really saying. My best friend before moving to East Hampton, Ct from N. Kingstown, RI was Kenny. A black man. At the time it didn’t set well with my father. But he was my friend so end of story. It was often Kenny, Dana, JB and I together and we were more than just friends. We were brothers. My family came to love him. And when Kenny and I got in a fight once, he gave me quite a black eye and I cut his lip. Thought he’d be mad at me for a time. But he went by my house, unbeknownst to me, and talked with my mom, telling her we had a fight and he gave me a shiner. He figured they’d obviously see it and wonder what fight I got into this time. She answered him that if he felt he had to hit me, then I obviously deserved it! Kenny was part of the family.

It was through Kenny that I truly learned about Dr. King. I was standing in his living room and his parents were watching a clip on the news of a speech Dr. King had given. Though I had heard Dr. King before, this was the first time I actually heard him where it resonated into the center of me. I listened to Kenny’s dad speak over Dr. King’s words. I felt, as much as I could, how his heart was touched. The hope that was in him for things to change and get better. This was the day I really first heard and listened to Dr. King. I saw years of pain visible on the face of Kenny’s dad and saw tears in his eyes. Kenny’s mom sat quietly and nodded her agreement periodically. I started to see and learn. Prior to that day, I was just a bystander. Some head knowledge, but no heart knowledge. I’m still trying to learn.

The world is coming unraveled and all people of good conscience, especially those who say they’ve given their heart to Christ, must take stock of where we are at this point in our lives and in this country. Hate is becoming more insidious. People try to disguise it as pointing out what is wrong with a particular person, ethnic group, race, sex and so on, but it is an evil that is here to rob, kill, and destroy. Do not be taken in by these lies. Yes, there is wrong everywhere, but remedying this starts with each one of us. No one can opt out. Racism is rampant and growing. You can listen to pundits saying it is not, but they are wrong and often part of the problem. Open your spiritual eyes and ears. Take a serious look around. Be a part of the solution. It’s a heart issue. This is not in Christ’s heart. Light dispels darkness.


Obama Dream

I’m sharing a dream the Lord gave me in October, 2012 because it’s so pertinent to what is going on and what is present in what we see every day. What was shown to me has such important implications regarding the state of relations between races, especially black/white, that we must recognize that if it is not addressed, and if healing does not come, then this state of unrest may be irrevocably broken.

This dream was the most vivid, Technicolor dream I’ve ever had. It is still as intense today as it was four years ago when I first had it. In this dream I am sitting on a lawn, not sure where, with perfect green grass. I’m talking with some unidentified people, presumably about scriptural matters, as my bible is with me and I have paper and notes in front of me. Not sure if I was teaching, but that’s usually how I have things arranged when I do. Suddenly someone came up behind me on my left side and as I looked up it was President Obama. I did not get up but just looked up and said, “Hello, Barack.” Immediately, the Spirit of the Lord convicted me for my lack of respect. I stood at once and apologized and then said, “Hello Mr. President.” He was wearing a dark blue colored suit, with a brilliant and resplendent white shirt with gold Presidential marked cufflinks, a light blue tie with matching clasp, and black three eyelet shoes.

When I first spoke to him with disrespect, the President looked a bit hurt as if I had inflicted a wound with my attitude, but he still remained as if he knew I had something to say. I did. I then shared prophetically the deep and abiding love God had for him. I told him that God had so many things to say to him and that he must believe and expect to hear from the Lord in dreams, audible words from Him, from reading the Word, and from counsel that would be sent to him. The closer he got to the Lord, the easier it would be for him to discern what was from God and what was from man. I told him I would pray for him daily and that I would tell others of this so that they would also. I could see the depths in his eyes of the weight he was carrying in his position and from not being lifted up as he should be in prayer. They stay with me still. His countenance was different than when I first encountered him.

The dream then shifted to a new scene. I was now walking and suddenly, Michele Obama came running up to me and gave me a hug. She had tears in her eyes. She said I had no idea how much the prayers have helped. She thanked me and asked that I would continue. I said I would but was blown away that the prayers had already made a difference. Then in the same dream the Lord showed me a vision. It seemed like silky strands, multiple and increasing and impossible to count, but on closer investigation it was like a large spider web. The kind that you don’t really see clear enough to avoid until it’s stuck to you. You’ve walked in it and you try to quickly get if off and hope no spider is in with the parts of the web stuck to you. I then asked the Lord what is this? He responds, “this is a spirit of racism. It is very insidious and is only getting worse. It doesn’t have to be seen first to stick to you.” End of dream.

I awoke and wrote this down. I realized of course that I was a representation of the church that should be praying and that the church has dropped the ball on praying for those in leadership unless it is someone they voted for. That is not scriptural and it cannot go well for you when you work contrary to the word of God. Each day since that dream, I’ve seen things get worse with how people interact and the hatred that is endemic in our society. I realize this President has been publically disrespected more than any other in too many ways that are totally undeserved. This has nothing to do with agreeing with this man’s policies or his political party affiliation. It goes deeper. For my part, I pray daily for him as I did for the past president. These are troubling times and people of faith need to stand up and take their place in prayer. It is written that people will know you are followers of and believers in Christ by the love you show to one another. Your actions and words dictate who you serve. Follow the only true path.