50 Years Later, ‘We’re Still Talking’ Equality

June 17, 2020

Editor, The News-Gazette:

I read with interest your editorial titled “Reckoning with History,” finding it spot on, given the challenging times we are still facing in our society, regarding race relations. I do believe, as a country, we have progressed, but at the same time, we have miles to go before all members of our society are accepted and treated equally. Hopefully, with the rhetoric and compassion for change being amplified across our country today, better times are yet ahead.

It was also ironic for me, on the same page as your editorial piece, I noted “Out of the Past - 50 Years Ago.” I was one of the 65 graduates of the Rockbridge High School class of 1970. School Superintendent Hermann Lee was correct in referencing our society as a “complex time.” Certainly for me, I was hopeful that I was prepared for the complex challenges I would be facing going off to college that fall. I would be the first Black scholarship football player at the University of Virginia. As well, I would be part of the first entry class of Black undergrad students, some 70 of us, at the University of Virginia.

Certainly much has changed in the years since that time. Obviously, much has changed from what I and the family and friends I grew up with had experienced from our early childhood in Rockbridge County. From “colored” only bathrooms and water fountains, in addition to segregated schools, on through to the desegregation of schools and ultimately the University of Virginia. Yet, through all of that, with the positive change certainly recognized, we as a society overall still haven’t come to grips with equality for all. It’s saddening to think that 50 years have passed and we’re still talking about this and still faced with some of the same complex problems.

J. STANLEY LAND

Rockbridge High School, class of 1970

The News-Gazette

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