In the 1960’s, Nashville City officials elected to close the public swimming pools rather than allow black Americans to use them. Conventional wisdom of the day said that the Negro was incapable or unworthy of fully integrating into white American culture. Historian Victoria Wolcott wrote of that era that to many white Americans, “segregation meant safety.” The attempt to separate those who worked in our factories and farms, cleaned our houses, and cared for our children was the shameful legacy of the Jim Crow south.
Today, too many Americans, fearful and anxious about the state of our precious country, again elect to lash out at those least capable of defending themselves. Once again, the voices of separation and division have returned, and are a constant barrage against our better selves. An alarming number of our elected officials have sought the easy way out, giving in to the seduction of power over reason, retribution over forgiveness and understanding, and pride over humility. Some, motivated by ambition, and dangerously uninformed, seek to climb to power on the backs of those who work and contribute, but are forced to live in the shadows of society. It was wrong in the 60’s, and it remains wrong today.
Surely, there must be those in positions of power that have some vision and compassion. Our County can and should work together to find answers that help us embrace these new neighbors, and offer them an opportunity to live without fear. Those of us blessed with so much have a moral obligation to see to it. It is time for us to shape our own legacy here in Robertson County.