See, by now, you guys must think I am just a crusty, hard-headed and conservative old Southern man who has never fought for justice and civil liberties. Well, in the words of our president, “Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”
Just today, in light of some student protests here in Charlotte, I have been pondering my past. Today, some local students walked out of school to protest the interactions between ICE and immigrants. Well, I am here to tell you that those students are light weight.
Walking out of school? Just walking out? They used today as the perfect opportunity to ditch school for the day. This day also happened to be a “make up “ day for bad weather that happened a while back. So, of course they walked out! I mean, come on! Even a crusty, hard-headed and conservative old Southern man like me would have done the same thing.
I organized my first protest fifty-one years ago. And at the time, I , too, was a young public school student. At Fishweir Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida. Back then, kids had what they called, “play periods.” That’s when the teacher would take us outside to “play!”
As a sixth grader in 1966, “play period” meant “kickball!” And kickball during play period was the most fun kids my age had back then. And Fishweir had some pretty good and new kickballs that were full of air and quite kickable!
Well, late one morning, as our play period began, we went outside to enjoy some kicking and the beautiful day. The very first kicker that day pounded the ball, as hard as he could, toward the sideline and the top of the chain link fence. It really was a powerful kick. But the damned ball wedged between the spikes on top of the fence and an old and hard oak tree.
The ball deflated. Immediately.
Well, that seemed to baffle, what I call our “play period guy.” I really don’t know what the hell the guy did, but he was about sixty years younger than our teacher, so he watched us play every day.
And he really did garner more respect from the twenty-five or so twelve year olds than did our ninety-five year old teacher. But on this day, he decided to, instead of finding another ball, make us clean up the playground. Seriously.
Well, that disturbed us all terribly. So, I organized all of us kids to have a sit down strike. We formed a semi-circle, sat side by side, clapping our hands, swaying left and right and chanting, “We shall overcome.” Again, I am being very serious here. The poor play period guy was baffled. He had a dirty playground, a busted ball and twenty-five twelve year olds swaying and chanting. He did all that he could do at the time. He let us protest!
Eventually, a real teacher or someone came out to break up the discourse. Our teacher never showed. I think she was getting an oxygen treatment or something. But whoever it was made us go inside. And, we did not have to clean the damned playground! We won! Play period guy lost!
Because of what happened in Charlotte today, and because of my twisted memories and thoughts, I just had to contact my daughter-in-law and son. They have four children who are home schooled. I really did have to ask this question and make this statement:
“Did your kids walk out of school today as a protest like some kid’s in Charlotte did? If not, then I need to have a heart-to-heart talk with each of them. They blew a perfect opportunity to spend a beautiful day AWAY from schooling!”
Neither of them have responded, yet! They must be as baffled as I am about a crusty, hard-headed and conservative old Southern man suggesting such a thing!