I hope all fathers had a wonderful day Sunday. I spent a portion of the day thinking about how fortunate I was to be brought up in a Christian home with parents who put children first. I was just a little shocked to read recently that almost 45 percent of students in public schools come from single parent homes.
This figure seems to be growing each year.
Yes, I am indeed proud of my parents. I could not help but think about the work ethic of my father. He did not believe in unemployment and made real sure that we did not either. I have been accused of being a workaholic and I guess to some extent that was true, but I did get it honest. I hope you have fond memories of your father and that you had a good Father’s Day.
Some of my readers have asked what Ole Miss was like the first day James Meredith was a student. If you can recall my column from last week you may remember that the day was October 1, 1962. I hope you also remember that as I drove toward Oxford, I happened to think of all the federal troops and that I would be checked by them before entering the University. I also had to discard my prized machete made while I was a student at Bruce High School. I am totally convinced had the machete been discovered in the trunk of my car that I would have been detained. Since all vehicles were thoroughly searched no doubt it would have been discovered.
I drove into Oxford and was stopped by the troops and searched. I was then issued a military pass and allowed to enter the campus. The campus, as you can imagine, looked very much like a war zone. It had been just that the night before. I made my way to the building where I had my first class and for the first time in my life found out what tear gas would do. I coughed, sneezed, wiped my eyes but the burning continued and nothing seemed to help. The professor ended the class early that day and I suspect everyone else was very glad.
The next few days were chaotic. The thing that impressed me the most was the hate that was evident on that campus. Hate seemed to rule. Even though I grew up in rural Calhoun County, my parents never taught me to hate nor did they teach me to discriminate against anyone. This experience taught me some valuable lessons. I soon realized that hate has to be carefully taught to a child by an adult. I thank God that I was never taught that lesson.
About two weeks after Meredith’s arrival, I was in the library one day when I heard the radio held by a federal Marshall crack and the marshal was told that the “subject” was on his way to the library. In he came with a number of marshals and he asked if he could sit at the table with me. We introduced ourselves and began to make small talk when I saw Chief Marshall McShane start toward our table. Meredith held up his hand and told the Marshall that we were only talking and that things were fine. We talked a few minutes and then went to work.
It became aware to me that people could live together in peace a lot easier than they could live in hate.
Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and an Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is Pastor of the Pittsboro and Shady Grove UM Churches in Calhoun County. He is a member of the Calhoun County School Board. Contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org