I have been watching a documentary about the civil rights movement in America in the 1950’s through the 1970’s. One element of the story focused on a motel in Florida. The owner refused to let any person of color in the facility. He was polite at first according to Dr. King; however, on one day he was an example of the inhumanity that was at the forefront of segregation in America.
As a protest, several African American girls and young men arrived by taxi and jumped into the Motels pool. The owner tried to remove them and when it did not prove successful he started dumping muriatic acid in the pool. The entire scene was filmed and his face took on a monstrous grimace as he ran around the pool dumping the chemical onto the swimmers who then vacated the pool.
Now fast forward 30 years and his daughter is speaking about him. She explained that he was the product of the thinking of the time and was actually seen as a moderate by fellow southerners for his attitude towards African Americans. A video clip of him now; telling how he asked the mayor to stop the police from shocking the young protesters with cattle prods back then; which they did, seemed to speak to his moderate beliefs. Now, his daughter seemed to be saying that he needed to be forgiven. Andrew Young, a young protester then, had been savagely beaten by police in front of that same hotel yet he forgave then and now. That was so incredibly powerful and it was repeated over and over again as African Americans were physically assaulted and did not retaliate. This lack of response was probably what won the hearts and minds of the American public and helped to push discrimination into a corner. It gave me pause to consider how people could be forgiven such hateful acts but they have. Now as the holiday season is near I have thought how small and trite my complaints about others might be. Surely if the people that did such horrible things can be forgiven than forgiving small insults and exclusions can be forgiven and forgotten.