Heroes Still Marching Among Us

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    (Thanks very much to former Rep. Tom Perriello, this is great! – promoted by lowkell)

    Fifty years ago today, a group of courageous young Virginians in Danville braved beatings and prison to demand dignity and equal rights in what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “one of the most viciously segregated cities in America.” This day in the last capitol of the Confederacy has been known since as Bloody Monday.

    Many heroes from that struggle have never stopped marching for justice. Today we celebrate Rev. Thurman Echols, Bishop Larry Campbell (the elder), along with countless heroes – mostly women – whose names appeared in police blotters and hospital records, but never newspapers or history books. At the time, blacks were one-third of the regional population but only 6% of registered voters and held even fewer positions in the ranks of the police and City Hall.

    In the early days of my first campaign, many of these same leaders called a march after a five-year-old girl was shot by a stray bullet while lying in her bed. I accepted their invitation to join and, after walking a few miles together, left the wiser for the oral history shared with me by those who had lived the struggle, and bent the arc of history ever so slightly towards justice. Mayor Saunders – who later became the first African-American mayor of the city – told me about his brother being thrown in jail, and his mother going to the Mayor’s lawn to demand his release. Rev. Avon Keene talked of being a kid watching that day. At a second march soon thereafter, the white police chief joined with African-American city council members in a way unthinkable to anyone in Danville 50 years ago except those who dared to dream.

    I encourage readers to take a few minutes on this anniversary to read the knowledge that pioneers like Bishop Campbell and Rev Echols continue to share. In a sign of progress, national and local newspapers are giving this anniversary more coverage than they gave to the original protesters. Heroes still march among us and still have something to teach us, if we all take a bit of time to listen.

     

    Original coverage: http://www.crmvet.org/docs/dan…

    Dr. King’s Visit to Danville: http://www.newsadvance.com/go_…

    Reflection Through Lens of a White Sympathizer from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06…

    Anniversary Coverage and Reflections:

    http://www.newsadvance.com/go_…

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/…

    http://articles.wdbj7.com/2013…

    http://www.wset.com/story/2239…