The Right to Love, Part I: A Common Desire for Desegregation (Part 1 of 2)
by Lauren Alan
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Angie Peterson sat by her apartment's windowsill sipping cocoa and listening to the raindrops fall. Now and then thunder would boom in the dark December sky. She had been watching the news earlier, but she shut it off when the reporter started talking about the latest sit-in at a white restaurant when a group of black men and women were thrown out just for trying to have equal acceptance into a white facility.
Angie didn't need the news to know how intense racism was, really. Her father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and had participated in cross burnings and other hate crimes against black people. After Angie graduated from high school seven years ago, she moved out of her parents' home with no intention of moving back in. Her father's actions were so hateful that living under the same roof as him was unbearable. Her mother was all right, but she let fear of her husband get the better of her and never stood up for what she believed--that blacks are all people, too, and ought to be treated equally. Angie, being on her own, figured she could say just what she thought in her own apartment, and no one could stop her.
She leaned back against the windowsill and closed her eyes, remembering a time when she was in college and working in a coffee shop near her campus. Some men from an all-black college had come to have lunch there. One of the men was Charles Williams. Angie knew his name for sure, because she had come to be their waitress and he introduced himself and his group, which included his best friend, Ty Miller, to her. Charles was the most attractive young man she had ever seen. He had an amazing smile, the most sensitive brown eyes, and broad, muscular shoulders. It was all Angie could do to keep herself from fainting at what a dreamboat he was.
The manager soon noticed her taking black people's orders, and he ran over and yelled at her. "Angelica Peterson, if you serve these tar people, you're fired!" he roared. Then he turned to Charles and his group of friends. "Get out of here before I call the police!" he roared. "I'll have you lynched!"
Charles and his friends left. Angie stared after them. She felt so bad. These people were being threatened and even killed just because of the color of their skin. They were being treated even worse than stuff you scrape off the bottom of your shoe.
She stood watching them silently until her boss shouted, "Angie, get back to work!"
Angie did as she was told, all the while thinking how much she wished many of the whites of her day would accept the fact that all men and women were always created equally and how much she wished that the laws would change.
After reflecting on that memory, Angie went to her bedroom to turn in. It was already almost ten o'clock, and she had to get up early to teach a bunch of adorable second-graders at Selma Elementary School. Once she had her pajamas on and her prayer journal in her hand, she opened up her journal to the date December 4, 1957. In it she wrote, "Dear Jesus, please help this unfair way that so many of my people are treating the black people just because of the color of their skin to stop. Please help those who are fighting for their right to be treated equally to not lose heart and to keep on fighting the good fight. Also, please show me if there is anything I can do to help them to win their freedom." Then she smiled. "And dear Jesus, if it isn't too much to ask, please make it possible for me to see Charles Williams again in the future! I know You know my thoughts and that I was drawn to Charles the moment I first laid eyes on him, and if it is Your will, please let us see each other again and allow Charles to be attracted to me, too. I only hope and pray his faith and his relationship with You are as strong as mine, because many men who have come into my life have only been interested in me either because they wanted sex, which I will never give to anyone until I am married to my husband, and he will be the only partner I have sex with, or because they wanted companionship." Angie blinked back tears as she remembered all the guys who had used her. Her heart yearned for that special man who would truly love her--who would look out for her welfare and not just his own needs and desires. She hoped Charles would be that man, if God willed for them to be together.
After Angie finished writing in her journal, she ran a brush through her long, wavy blonde hair and then turned off the light. When she fell asleep, she had a dream that she and Charles got married and that he carried her over a threshold into a beautiful castle in the sky. When she woke up in the morning, she was very disappointed that the dream was over, but she knew she had to put that disappointment behind her now. She had a full day of teaching ahead of her.
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