Monday, July 19, 2010
Tonight my family and I walked along Queen Street into the middle of downtown Charleston to the waterfront park at the harbor. As we ambled along the cobbled street past Poogan's Porch, historic churches, and Meeting Street I thought about the Civil Rights Movement history of Charleston. I saw tourists huddled around tour guides hearing stories about the places and people of the old city, patrons of pubs and restaurants wobbling along with their arms around each others shoulders enjoying their pints of beer, glasses of wine, and plates of shrimp and grits, and a young black man sitting in solitude on top of a table on the harbor walkway weaving flowers and crosses out of sweet grass in the way of the Gullah tradition and I wondered if they knew that fifty-some-odd years ago Thurgood Marshall began arguing the case of Briggs v. Elliott in the federal courthouse in Charleston before Judge J. Waties Waring, a case that would evolve into Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas and a judge who was despised by the high society folks of the city and who was offered a one way train ticket out of the state by the South Carolina legislature. Do we still ask the old questions - What does it mean to be human? How can we weave a more human world for everyone? I wonder. I hope.