The transition point

On my drive into work this morning I was listening to NPR when they played a recording from the Story Corps project. This one was by Jim McFarland and you can read it here. You can hear him read it himself by clicking the listen button on the same page.

What struck me about it was something that for him, I suspect, was a minor detail. “”When we got to D.C.,” McFarland recalled, “we would get out of an integrated car and we’d go into an all-colored car.” Then a resident of New York City, now a resident of Atlanta, I wonder if he thought much about this transition point being in D.C.

Hearing his story, however, I think about it. The location where this family had to make the switch from an integrated car into one where they were segregated based on the color of their skin was here in our nation’s capital.

I don’t know for sure about the arrangement of the city in the middle 50s, less than two decades before I was born. I presume the location where he came into and changed trains was Union Station. While getting out of one car and into the segregated one he would have been less than a mile (as the crow flies) from the National Archive, where these words are on display. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

It’s both inspiring and sobering to realize that it wasn’t so long ago.

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