Shaping Generations: From Civil Rights To 9/11

Yesterday we were all reminded of the events of 9/11.  My children who are 4 years old and 7 months old weren’t alive to witness the horrors of that day.  However, we all can agree that the world they are growing up in is shaped and defined by the events of that day and how our nation responded.

My generation was scarred by the events of 9/11.  My children will hear the stories and see the pictures but won’t have lived the horrors.

Two decades after integration I started kindergarten.  Forty seven years after seniors at Kinston’s Adkin High School walked out to protest unfair administration policies, my classmates and I graduated from Kinston High School.  The public school system we grew up in was significantly different from my father’s generation.  My generation grew up playing with white friends and black friends, and we learned side by side in the same classroom with the same teacher using the same materials.

We did all of this, however, because of the policies and sometimes tragedies that shaped the civil rights era.

Recently, I spoke at the Tabernacle on Dr. J E Reddick Circle.  The service was a gathering of Adkin High School alumni.  Many of the men and women at that service helped raise me in the public school system and others watched me grow up in this community.

I spoke of the world my daughters are growing up in as compared to my generation and my father’s generation.  Each generation has its own challenges, its own battles and its own issues.  How we choose to communicate and work together to acknowledge and overcome our problems helps define each generation.

Likewise we must also acknowledge that each generation will bring a different perspective to the table.  Each generation is different and each individual within each generation will bring a different perspective based on their upbringing.  No party label or generation’s title or government classification can exclusively communicate the positions or perspectives of an individual on all subject matters.  Sometimes classifications impede constructive dialogue because they mask the true heart of the individuals who desire to be heard.  We are all unique and can help add to the discussions surrounding life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

My desire is that as each generation helps mold and raise the next, that we remember the stories of past generations, learn from them and focus on the positives which have helped bring our nation and community together for more than two centuries.  We must remember that we are all God’s children.  And, no matter the difficulty of the situation, sensitivity of the subject matter, or the outcomes God is always in control.