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Nawth of 'the Snob Line'
Born, raised, and educated to the third degree deep behind the Cotton
Curtain, I am and will be to the day I die, in my blood, in my manners, in
my literary culture, in the hymns that I know by heart, in my home
cooking, and deep in my heart a Suthuna. I did not move to the north of
the Snob Line to reject any of that. I moved here because the South had
no place for Ernest and me.
We lived the first six of our 27+ years racially integrating a white
neighborhood in a tiny town in Middle Georgia. Our neighbors frequently
threw rocks at our apartment, especially the adolescents when spring came.
Anonymous callers threatened to murder us several times a year. The
Birchite MACON HERALD told its 160,000 readers that Ernest and I had
caused the tornado that ripped through our tiny town. "Would one expect
God to remain silent when solomists [sic] present?" (March 20, 1975, page
1) shouted Bishop James Dees, who had left the Episcopal Church when its
Yankees started urging integration. The vestry of my own parish sent a
letter asking me to leave. The rector refused even to share the peace
with me. See Peace of Christ Is Not For Gays Christianity & Crisis
37.9-10 : 140-144. Ernest did not go church during those years. "I
get enough of hate during the week," he would tell me when I invited him.
He did not become an Episcopalian until years later, after we moved to
New Jersey and my rector asked him to do the readings every Sunday at
the 8 o'clock service.
I have loved teaching everywhere I have taught (including Beijing Foreign
Language Institute, The University of Wisconsin, Chinese University of
Hong Kong, Rutgers....), but none of them as much as at Ft. Valley
State College, where my gifts were needed and appreciated.
'Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.' [Warren said]
'I should have called it
Something you somehow haven't to deserve.' [Mary said]
from Robert Frost's "Death of a Hired Man"
It is only in living nawth of the so-called Snob Line that I have been
treated like family, and I am enormously grateful.
I am also happy that the tiny church in Ft. Valley which once asked me to
leave invited the two of us to come celebrate its 60th anniversary a
couple of years ago.
Integrity is for everyone, but it will cost you your life.