I saw this morning that Linda Brown has passed away. Linda Brown was the little girl in the center of the landmark desegregation case, Brown vs. The Board of Education. The little girl who had to walk much further to school because she wasn't allowed to go to the all white school around the corner from her house.
In my house growing up, the Civil Rights Movement was a constant source of discussion. My mother was deeply involved in the movement, and I remember, as a young girl, sitting quietly in the living room surrounded by animated discussions by a very motivated, racially mixed, and vocal group of activists. A full set of Freedomways magazines were stacked in our bookcase, and many of the authors of those articles frequented our home. I dearly wish I could go back in time and really pay attention to those conversations. I was a bit too young to understand most of what was said, but I remember vividly the stories I was told about desegregation, and I remember the videos of adults screaming , and even spitting at children, and young adults as they tried to attend a newly desegregated school or college for the first time. These brave girls, like Linda Brown, Ruby Bridges, and Vivian Malone, walking with their eyes trained straight ahead as horribly behaved grownups blasted them with vitriol.
I was uncomfortably reminded of that shameful behavior as I watched some of the derision and hate aimed at the children who have decided to make their voices heard this past weekend around the country. Scared adults, worried that their way of life will somehow be disrupted, have become horrible bullies. ( It's funny how one of their big arguments is that we need to address bullying in schools to solve the violence, and yet it is one of their favorite weapons against these kids.)
Their behavior doesn't seem much different than the kind of hate that was flung at Linda Brown so many years ago. We are still yelling at children to hide our fear of change, but I know that this too shall pass, because this time, they're not just calmly walking on, they're speaking up too.
Linda, don't worry... Naomi Wadler has your back, and we have her's.