We began picketing against racial segregation in Oklahoma in 1958, five years before the horrors of the bridge in Selma.
The atmosphere of hate was like wading through a neck-high lake of molasses. The ordinary-looking people who cursed us and threw things at us surprised me. I had naively thought that everyone else felt as I did, that is, that racial discrimination was an obviously and self-evidently wrong thing. Boy, was I surprised.
Frat rats threw bricks and other things at us. One hit me with a brick. I was permanently removed from the picket line for not being a pacifist—I threw it back, missing my target by about 25 feet (profound embarrassment). I became the behind-the-scenes sign painter thereafter.
I was amazed and gratified to see the election of Barack Obama only 50 years later in 2008. After our hostile reception in 1958, I never imagined that it could happen.
The cross burning in Arroyo Grande fills me with horror and revulsion. How can this still be happening?
This disgusting and unacceptable act should be crushed by the full force of the police power of the state. I advocate the death penalty for the perpetrators of this despicable act.