By Maryland Senator Roy Dyson
I was appalled when I picked up Wednesdays edition of the Washington Post and read in its Metro section Hate Crimes Wake Charless Sleeping Giant. It was the lead story. The long article did a respectful and important job of reporting disgraceful incidences of recent hate crimes in Charles County, an area I represent with Senator Thomas Mac Middleton in the Maryland Senate.
I have been proud to have represented Charles County when I first successfully ran for a seat in the House of Delegates in 1974, then in the United States Congress for 10 years and now in the Maryland Senate.
It alarms me that in 2006, these terrible events are occurring in the great county of Charles County. I would venture to guess that 99.9 percent of the population of Charles rejects these messages and incidences of hate which I will not dignify by pointing them out. Im sure thats exactly what the .1 percent of the racists who are committing these deplorable acts would like for me to do.
I can say one word about them: Despicable. Despicable in the extreme.
Ironically, the day before the article appeared, I received an invitation to attend the 100th anniversary of a church that is heavily attended by African-Americans in Calvert County, parts of which I also represent in the Senate.
Its message was far from the racist incidences covered by the Post. The churchs invitation reads in part: Dear Christian Friends...We look forward to your participation and support as we give thanks and praise for the joys and blessing God has bestowed upon His people.
Recently, I attended another heavily attended African-American church service at the invitation of a dear friend of mine—and member of the church—who has been a leader in the community. The response I received from the congregation was one of deep love. The service was wonderful and inspiring. It included the ministers great sermon backed by the church choir singing beautiful gospel songs praising Gods work.
When I asked my friend about the abnormally high recent incidences of racial violence in Charles County, her response was I love God. Therefore I have to love [the racists].
I thought that was just the perfect response and it was truly heartfelt.
I am a regular viewer of Maryland Public Television some of which is funded by the state budget released by the governor. I saw their monthly TV Guide two days before the Post story appeared, I was very pleased to see one of my all-time favorite documentaries is being re-released and will appear on PBS this month.
The documentary is Eyes on the Prize which will air on American Experience on October 2, 9 and 16. This award-winning six-six-part documentary chronicles the history of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Julian Bond, who marched with the late, great Martin Luther King, Jr. and is chairman of the NAACP is the narrator.
According to WETA, the documentary relates human stories and events from the era spanning the Montgomery bus boycott in 1954 to the Voting Rights Act in 1965, from acts of individual courage—such as student Elizabeth Eckfords experience braving white mobs as she attended Little Rocks Central High School in 1957 through the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions.
I encourage everyone to watch this documentary. It has not been seen on television in 10 years, but I remember it vividly from the time it was first broadcast in 1987. It tells a story of what people of every color did, under extraordinary pressures, stresses and even deaths and death threats to fight for equal rights for African-Americans and all people in general. The people who fought for this noble cause will be an inspiration for all of those who are upset about these recent racial incidences and will serve as a reminder that a lot of good people went to great lengths to improve racial relations in this country. It will also serve as a reminder that although its 2006, we still have a ways to go.