In 1965 this “sure” feeling carried me away from the safety of California to the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South. There was no looking back, no second guessing myself. I was going.
And the idea of “going” was wonderful. There were several levels of “going,” One was that I was going to do something I thought life affirmning – registering black voters. Another, I was about to travel across the country to places I had never been, to meet people I had never met and to see history being made. I’d wake up each morning wondering – what will it be like there? And this was my first trip alone away from home.
The excitement of going sustained me when I allowed myself to wander into considering consequences. Like so many other Americans, I had watched the violence of the Civil Rights Movement on television. I knew about burning crosses and lynchings. I’d seen police assault children with tear gas, batons, cattle prods, and fire hoses. In Selma demonstrators were ridden down by police on horses. I knew civil rights workers had been killed. That’s why I didn’t allow myself to think about the dreadful things very often.
I had the sense that I had to go and I did.