I read S.C. Rep. Terry Alexander's powerful piece in the paper this morning, and I truly was moved by it. I'm a few years older than Rep. Alexander, so I certainly can relate to his stories.
Yes, we can forgive, but I shall never forget. I will begin by speaking of my late grandfather, a proud coach cleaner at the then-ACL railroad. He worked there from age 17 until he was 65. That"s right — he worked there for 48 years.
I was the oldest grandchild in my grandfather's house. Growing up on Roughfork Street was tough in those days. I was the child who always wanted to know WHY! I can remember one day I went with my grandfather to the Eatmore Restaurant. It was raining, and we were standing at the outside window in the rain ordering food and white folks were going inside out of the rain to get their food.
So I asked my grandfather if we could go in out of the rain, and his answer was a very firm "NO." We got very wet, but we got our hamburgers. I don't think he ever went back there again. Certainly not with me in tow.
I came away from that thinking they want his money but didn't want to give him dignity. That happened more than 55 years ago, but it is still ingrained in my mind how we were treated that day. My grandfather never talked to me about that day again.
I, too, like Rep. Alexander, saw my share of putting in tobacco. I can remember helping this certain family that had a large farm on TV Road. We had just come out of the field and went under the barn shed. Thirsty, I happened to pick up the "whites only" cup. You would have thought the lady was about to have a heart attack. She said no, no, the "colored cups" are over there.
Then there was the time my brother and I and a friend were rollerskating on Douglas Street between Roughfork and Athens, and this car came slowly rolling up to me and the guy stuck his neck out the window and tried to spit on me. Luckily his aim was bad. Till this day, I can still see his face in my mind. It had hate written all over it.
I thank God that he lets me love all people good and bad. I am sure there are people my age that have stories like this of their own. So once again, yes, I forgive, but my heart of hearts won't let me forget.
J. R. SPEARS