Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Martin Luther King and Equality

This might be an unusual approach to all this. What I would like to share is what life for me as a white person was from the 1950s until now.

My first experience outside of seeing black people on buses and sometimes on streets waiting for buses in the Los Angeles area I didn't usually interact with them because for all intents and purposes Glendale where I grew up was basically segregated. It wasn't like in the South where it was institutionalized then in the 1950s. It was just Realtors had just gotten together and decided not to rent houses or apartments in Glendale to Black people. So, my experience was of de facto segregation when I grew up in Glendale, California then. Glendale is right next to Hollywood, Burbank and North Hollywood and Eagle Rock and Pasadena and some other cities as well as bordering parts of Los Angeles the city proper. So, there were no black people at all in any of the schools that I attended even though there were Hispanic and oriental people and Native American people who went to the schools I attended. The two most terrifying experiences (one in 1960 and one in 1965) when I had just turned 17.

The first experience I had with black people was having rocks being thrown at me while my father was doing Electrical Work (he was an Electrical Contractor) for a Catholic Nunnery in a black area near USC. 4 to 6 kids were throwing rocks at me and my fathers utility body electrical truck. I dodged the rocks so I wasn't hurt but went inside where my father was working and asked him what to do. He said, "Freddie. You don't want to do anything. We have to finish this job and if you throw rocks back at them or do anything someone likely is going to die and we will have to call the cops and that wouldn't be good for anyone. So, just keep going out and dodging the rocks and getting parts for me to finish the job. Hopefully, they won't break a window on the truck before we finish." So, I did as my father ordered me  to do even though I was kind of scared and only 12 years old because I wasn't raised around these kinds of problems so I didn't understand what was happening really.

So, we finished the job and luckily they didn't break any windows and stayed across the street while they threw rocks at the truck and me. I was able to dodge the rocks and we finished our job for the Catholic Sisters and left and that was that. This would have been 1960 in the summer.

The next scary experience was when the Watts Riots occurred in August 1965. If you look at a map of the Los Angeles area you can see where Watts is in relation to Glendale where I lived. So, I could look from our large veranda deck on our 3 bedroom apartment in Glendale and see the smoke rising from buildings burning from where I lived in Glendale then. What was more frightening than this though was white people up in the hills around Glendale with rifles target practicing in case any black people came into Glendale. I found the white people in the hills around Glendale far more terrifying than the smoke coming up from Watts miles away. At night you could hear the gun reports until almost midnight most nights after work as they practiced shooting targets during the Watts riots. This was not of course legal either but I guess the police permitted it because of the crazy situation in Watts at that time.

But also when I was 12  in 1960 there was a black church affiliated with our Los Angeles Church so my parents and I visited this black church and those people were very nice indeed to my parents and I in their church. My parents visited there as visiting ministers. They were very nice to all three of us.

Then when I was 21 I made friends with Bill Cosby's double in "I Spy" on TV when I lived in Venice on the beach near Los Angeles and lived there in 1969. Once I had turned 18 and after I met many black people that became acquaintances or friends through the years. Somehow the riots in Los Angeles and Chicago and other places caused things to begin to change between whites and blacks in this country especially after Martin Luther King gave his "I have a Dream" speech.

So, this is what it was like for me while all these changes were going on in the 1950s and 1960s. Also, my 5 years older cousin who worked for VISTA which was like the Peace Corps in the U.S in East L.A. demonstrated for equal rights for everyone in marches in the Los Angeles Area. He was a new lawyer at the time and was very helpful in getting rights for many people without them especially the underprivileged.



Watts Riots - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Watts Riots (or Watts Rebellion) took place in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles from August 11 to 17, 1965. The six-day riot resulted in 34 deaths, ...

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