Two of the striking things during yesterday's event to honor some former Staunton teachers: first, millennials were under-represented; next, the press did not cover it. Those deficiencies will affect politics for the next decade. These heroes of the segregation era and the struggle before equality may become forgotten relics.
"We must remember where we came from." - Sister Patsye Robinson
This was the second celebration of Staunton's teachers from that era: the first was for those who taught in the high school; this one focused on elementary teachers. Some of the honorees crossed through both based upon the needs of the segregated school district. The Staunton-Augusta African American Research Committee (many members are former students of the teachers) organized the efforts to remember them. Looking around the filled church hall at Mount Zion Baptist Church on North Augusta, the relevance of those times seems to only speak to those who lived them and most have or are approaching social security eligibility. That in itself is amazing because to us as students, being that age seemed so very far away when segregation was contemporary. In fact, there were days themselves that seemed like years when the fight for equality was as hot as the Viet Nam War.
"What is the cost of knowing our past? And what is the cost of not?" - Wright Thompson reflecting upon the enrollment of James Meredith at Ole Miss
To paraphrase Steve Allen, tragedy plus time equals humor. A lot of good humor was shared as these former teachers and an administrator passed the mike in turn. That reveals that there was tragedy in bushels to go around during those days but these educators persevered. It only follows that the oldest honoree (recently turned 90) made the most of the fun. How they have all matured with such grace and so little bitterness confounds. But their toil has been rewarded over the years in the pride of watching the children they helped shape grow into adulthood and by the admiring love of their former pupils.