Most everyone in the U.S. -- 21st century -- will say we have come a long way from where we were in the '40s, '50s and '60s in regards to race relations. Martin Luther King is the greatest champion for the cause, but John F. Kennedy should share the credit because he did much pronouncing equality of mankind, regardless of color, religion or creed.
Lots of people hated both icons because of their stance of finding an surpassable barrier between skin color, if we could only retrain the skew and hue of the heart and mind. There was lots of undertone discrimination in the military services in the '50s and '60s.
There was lots of stigma attached to "whities" joining ranks from the South. When I told anyone I was from Alabama, automatically a flag went up in the minds of some of my black fellow servicemen that I hated the n-word.
I did detest the word, but I had no problem with the people. I had worked shoulder-to-shoulder with them in the cotton fields -- picking the fluffy stuff by hand, for two to three cents a pound. Sometimes the cotton was poor and the burrs knotted brittle from lack of rain. Sometimes even after new year we would still be scrubbing the stalks for bolls and all, and doing it for a penny a pound.
Meager was the lifestyle, but we garnered enough to buy a couple pair of dungarees, flannel shirts, tees and drawers, socks, and a pair of brogan shoes. I was adequately suited for going to school, with hopes of someday graduating from the field of broken dreams. Unfortunately, my parents were never able to pursue that dream of taking of an avenue out of a tough situation paved with blood, sweat and tears -- for oh, so many years.
Where am I going with this? I dunno ... just saying we have come a long way, but still a long way to go yet today. You can see discrimination seeping between the lines of some of the squawks and in some of the political chastising and sports reporting. Say what you will, but quite frankly my favorite 'Bama would be in a mellava hess if George Wallace was still posted at the front doors.
One more clip to demonstrate how some people just don't understand why the discrimination. I spent 11.5 years on sea and foreign service, according to my DD214.
As a result, God furnished me with my first help mate -- to keep my uniforms squared away, because I was no longer in the good ol' cotton fields back home and if wanted to keep it that way, I best present a good example to be emulated by others.
I brought my bride and son to the U.S. in 1964. We arrived on the old home place, unpacked our bags and headed for the laundromat in town. My uniforms in one basket and their clothes in the other. When we got up on the sidewalk in front of the house of wash and dry, my bride dropped her basket on the concrete and started sorting out pieces of apparel. I asked, "What in hades are you doing?"
She kept sorting and nodding toward the signage on the two doors -- one for white; one for colored.
Bless her heart, she simply did not understand, because she had never been exposed to all our many differences. May God bless each and every one -- from the past, at the present and in the future. Vote your conscience based on the candidates potential, proven experience, and consideration for the needs of every voter -- white, black, brown or yellow.
Donnie Corbin of Albany is a Phenix City, Ala., native and retired as a gunnery sergeant in 1977 after 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. Formerly employed at Flowers Hospital in Dothan, Ala., and Memorial Hospital Manor in Bainbridge, he now works part-time with CleanStart Inc. A great-grandfather, he and his wife, Marian, have two children and he has a son from a previous marriage. His traveling companion and alter ego is Ol' Blue, who he says is "instrumental in my letter-writing."