I left the Black History Program at Shorter on Feb. 21, with a kind of emptiness. I felt let down when he used the term “hotheads” and “irresponsible” when referring to the middle-class students who went to Lester Maddox’s store asking to be served. He said the fact that they ran when confronted by the people swinging ax handles revealed that they were not serious. He must not realize that some people did not like being hit in the head with ax handles.
Young downplayed the role of the early participants in the civil rights movement. But who am I to tell him? He walked with Dr. Martin Luther King. I guess I can justify my questioning him about his statement because he
reminded me so much of the 12 Disciples who walked with Jesus but still did not fully understand Him and His work even as He was going to the cross.
Having been a part of the movement might be the reason why I feel that the “hotheads” were a necessary evil, if we must label them such. If the three young men who went down to be served at Lester Maddox’s Variety Store (after being told not to go) were hotheads, that would lead me to believe that the first three young men, who in 1963 went to the downtown stores in Rome without permission, would have to be labeled “hotheads” behaving stupidly.
Young must not have spent much time in the country around the elderly people. If he had, he would have known that dog won’t hunt.
Having been a part of the civil rights movement, Ambassador Young should have known that most of the students who sat at the lunch counters and drank out of the water fountains did not do so with permission. But who am I to tell him?
If the three young college students who went to Lester Maddox’s store and encountered the ax handle incidents were hotheads, we would have to say that the 63 students who went downtown Rome in 1963 and all other students in other places were also hot-headed and silly.
I beg to differ with Young. I am thankful that he accepted the invite to come to Rome, but I feel the impact of the wheels of the bus that he threw me under.
WILLIE M. SAMUEL, Rome