"We just knew that King and those marchers were going to take over the base," my friend explained. In 1965, she had lived on an air force base just outside of Selma, Alabama, when Martin Luther King's civil rights marchers passed by.
Imagine, if you can, my incredulity. "Huh?" I gasped. "You mean a ragged line of civil rights marchers was going to invade a military base filled with guns, soldiers, and bombs!?" I was dizzy with confusion over her bizarre logic and weird understanding of King's doctrine of passive resistance. I was equally dazed by the underlying fear that she must have felt back then and had carried with her for all of these years. As a white activist during the civil rights movement, and avid armchair historian, nothing she said made a shred of sense to me.
We all know them: neighbors, friends, family, ourselves--people we just cannot talk to about certain topics without igniting ignorance, without bottle rockets of racism or fear flaming through the conversation.
I sat there, mentally dazed by the specter of Dr. King viciously attacking a massive military installation. I tried to steer the conversation to other topics. Then, out...