Having moved to Morgan County some 25 years ago, I can say without reservation that this is a good place to live. Yet during this past quarter century, with regard to integration, there have been some conspicuous examples of change adopted with good intentions in mind, but rendering minimal change to the status quo.
Before going further, allow me to offer what I believe is requisite of true integration. Two fundamental ingredients are necessary. The first is mutual respect whereby both blacks and whites are able to attain a style of self-envisioned existence without infringing on or being frustrated by the other. The second ingredient is freedom of self-determination that will allow for the intermingling of lifestyles among both groups.
Throughout the years that I have worked and lived in Madison and Morgan County, many activities have been generated with underlying good intentions while still missing bona fide opportunity to truly integrate our community.
For me, it is not integration when members of the black community are assimilated and accepted into an already established set of norms and codes of behavior defined and maintained by members of the white community. One example of integration unrealized was on display in August 2018 when not one of the 27 newly-hired teachers seen in a published photo was anyone with whom our black students identified as looking like them.
Authentic integration allows for free participation by all members within a community while catering to the full expression of self in a dynamic society as determined by the will of the people.
The May 27 “Live on the Lawn” Concert held on the fields of the original middle school was such an activity. The brainchild of Bob Mackey and Carrie Peters-Reid and promoted by the Chamber of Commerce invited all community members to join the festivities orchestrated on grounds in the heart of that black neighborhood.
True integration exists when people adopt bilateral approaches that involve both blacks and whites. To that end, we can never say we’ve done enough.