In Selma, Alabama, across the street from the George Washington Carver homes are the city prison and police station. A block or two away is city hall, the courthouse and the post office. George Washington Carver homes project was first commissioned in 1952 and became known as the “The Face of the Civil Rights Movement.” Many of the families who lived there were active in the Civil Rights Movement. The community has been and continues to be majority black. However, only one block away from these homes is the federal city hall and another block over
is the federal courthouse. In a time when African Americans were struggling to secure the right to vote, these very establishments that were in the hands of white officials who prevented blacks from voting, were only a short walking distance away. Black and white lines were closer than most often thought, and sometimes they were hard to define.
Black and white spaces were not so far from one another. In Birmingham, Alabama the 16th Street Baptist Church, where
four young, innocent African American girls were killed, is only a block from the federal courthouse. While “justice” was preached in the courthouse, sacred spaces, such as churches were defiled with bombing attempts from white supremacists.
Similarly the lower 9th Ward in Louisiana is only a hop skip and a jump from white neighborhoods nearby. This predominantly black community faces economic, social and political pressures and difficulties. While black and white lines were closer than most thought, the differences are astounding – even within the same city.
It is important to realize that black and white communities, families and individuals shared common spaces and lived within close proximity to one another. As much as white supremacists ardently valued the differences between races, they often shared more in common than not. If not for letting the arbitrary color of one’s skin act as a defining point of segregation, no one would be able to tell the difference from one person to the next. Over the years people have allowed other traits such as religious preference, sex and other traits define differences and separation rather than the unity of the human race. Perhaps if we emphasized similarity with others, people would be willing to try to try to better understand one another which could then contribute to a peaceful existence for all on the earth that we all share.