Jefferson Thomas, one of the "Little Rock Nine" students who in 1957 faced down a governor and hundreds of students angry over desegregation, spoke to Findlay High School on Wednesday as part of Black History Month.
You can read reporter Michelle Reiter's full story HERE and view video of Thomas' remarks HERE. To visit the Little Rock Nine Foundation's excellent Web site on promoting the ideals of justice and equal opportunity for all, click HERE.
A story excerpt that I would like to discuss on this blog:
Attending was not just a matter of taking a stand; it meant a chance at a better life.
A Findlay student asked Thomas how he deals with prejudice now, since he is no longer in the "extreme case" of Little Rock in 1957.
Knowing how to treat other people, in his case, came partly from growing up in a Christian household. But the Little Rock incident taught him that human decency is not necessarily a byproduct of religion.
One of the people who treated him with the most kindness and respect was a white student who befriended Thomas in secret, and remained close to him throughout high school.
When the boy revealed that he was an atheist, Thomas was surprised.
"The white kid at Central that treated me as a human being didn't believe in God," he said. "But the Christians were beating us and kicking us trying to keep us out of school."
We often confuse being a Christian with being a superior moralist. We also think that only Christians know how to live in the world with decency.
The reality is that Christians easily become self-righteous and can commit grievous sins against God when we withhold justice and sustenance from others.
"The white kid at Central that treated me as a human being didn't believe in God. But the Christians were beating us and kicking us trying to keep us out of school."
Reflect on that for a moment. Then please share your thoughts below.