By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
I am writing this column on the holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The banks and the post offices are closed and the traffic is about half of what it usually is on a Monday. There is a parade going on in the Fair Park area. It seems like a good time to do a little remembering of the events of the late 1950s and the early 1960s when Dr. King was beginning his program of non-violence in an effort to end segregation in our country.
He used the history of Gandhi in India in which non-violence freed an entire nation of people. The efforts of the community during the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott inspired many young people to opt for a similar plan to begin a campaign against the evil of racism, against the evil of poverty and against the evil of war.
Students from the universities took up the challenge and began to sit in at the lunch counters in their cities, at the department stores where they could spend their money on merchandise, but they were denied service at the eating areas because of their race.
Training for the task, they learned that if they bought something and the store accepted their money, then they had a right to go to the lunch counter and ask for food. When they were denied, they asked for the manager. When denied again, they respectfully departed.
Later the establishments that existed grew tired and began to arrest the sit-in folks. Beatings, humiliations and jail time were a part of the process. Some of the black university presidents supported the efforts. Some leaders asked for the students to back off and accept partial victories.
It was then that the problem became evident that it was a two-headed demon. Not only were segregation and discrimination systems to be changed, but the traditional black leadership structure as it existed was in need of reform.
Dr. King was a prominent figurehead for this new leadership. Men like Jim Lawson of F.O.R. (Fellowship of Reconciliation) and Congressman John Lewis also took charge in this time that we now we call the Civil Rights Movement.
And the battle is not over. Our young people are called to lead our nation and our churches once again. Give them a listening ear!