My friend Tony Robinson, a retired pastor with deep roots in Wallowa County, recounted his church and civil rights journeys in a blogpost yesterday, as answers to a grandson’s queries. The history begins with memories of growing up in suburban Washington D.C., and serving as an usher for the inauguration of John Kennedy when he was 12. And then being at the front, watching JFK’s funeral procession pass by just three years later. He told his grandson that his church, in a segregated suburb, introduced him to area black churches, and sent him to interracial summer camps, setting him on a path of pastoring to Hmong refugees and AIDs patients. His regret was not being at the 1963 March on Washington and hearing Martin Luther King’s famous words. His parents, like most of white suburban D.C., had feared violence. Read The Article
So take courage!
Friends here in Northeast Oregon are upset with the goings on in neighboring Burns. One group “occupied” a local Oregon Wildlife Refuge one evening with binoculars and beer. Most of “my” friends would like to see the government stand up and oust the anti-government gaggle; they’d like the Paiutes to have the biggest say in their ancestral lands. But I understand that some of my neighbors are sending food to the occupiers as well.
In America today, divisiveness is everywhere and hate sells. I needn’t list the shootings and the rancor over guns, the suspicion and hate over color, language and faith; the police conflicts, border walls, the hate speeches of Donald Trump, and the hatred of government that brings wronged ranchers, anti-Semites, anti-Islamists, and other antis swaggering with guns to a bird refuge in Oregon to state their cases and causes.
Many things are discouraging today. In the Middle East, where I lived and worked 50 Read The Article
I remember Alvin Josephy saying many times that the white liberals who had joined the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. King did not understand the Indian situation. To paraphrase him, “As the Civil Rights movement gained strength and won some victories, white liberals thought they could just transfer ideas and tactics over to Indian affairs. But there was a fundamental difference. Indians didn’t want their ‘civil’ rights, but their ‘sovereignty,’ the treaty rights and at least some of the land that had been stolen from them.”
Another constant theme of Alvin’s: “From the beginning Indians had three choices: become white—assimilation; move, across the Mississippi, further west, to reservations—removal; or extermination.” From the beginning, Euro-Americans who wanted to treat Indians fairly often thought the best way to do so was to assimilate them. Their assumption was that Indians had lost the continent, white civilization was on the march, and Indians were obliged to join the parade.