Let Virginia's Northam show that he's learned, changed


Beverly Mitchell

Friday, February 22, 2019

The antics of the Virginian governor in 1984 is considered news every day. Those racist pictures jolted me with anger also. Posing as either a Klansman or in black face as something cute was — and still is — demeaning. But I had to pen this letter, disagreeing with my Democratic leaders, black and white, anyway.

As a child I rode on the train to Savannah, Georgia, every summer to visit my great-grandparents. Although I entered the train and sat in clean, air-conditioned and integrated coaches in New Jersey, that ended as soon as I saw the huge home in Washington, D.C. My folks explained to me that it housed Congress and it represented the Mason/Dixon line where all black people had to get off the train. 

We had to walk alongside the train as the hot steam would would spew out of its sides. We walked to the front of the train and entered dirty, hot coaches. When we opened the windows, hot air and soot from the engines poured in for our continued ride through the South. 

I began to hate America as I watched it display sheer hatred toward anyone who tried to uplift blacks. The murders of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, Emmett Till, President John. F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and so many others were praised in the South, which included Virginia. It assured my belief that my country was evil.

But evil is a spirit. It leaves as we learn, and as we learn, change happens. Sadly, some people change while others don’t. We recognize it by listening to what people do or say now, not in the past. 

I changed. I watched America and the South display change. I studied America, its people, its politics, and I don’t know of anyone who loves America as I do now.

I saw U.S. Rep. John Lewis, in tears, forgive the man who beat him nearly to death for simply marching across the Pettis Bridge with Dr. King. That man changed, came to Washington, D.C., and begged for forgiveness. He had changed.

So let’s all live in the now and hope for the future of America, making sure out past does not reoccur. Let’s hope that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam will govern and show that he has changed — and will work to form a more perfect union, and establish justice for all people in Virginia.

Beverly Mitchell