Updated: Feb 19
From would be Hippie to Air Force Security Police, a short trip...
In the sixties, Burn Baby Burn was just one on the many slogans from that era. The Hippie movement was a youth movement and America were a racist segregated society. In my home town of Starke Florida, blacks lived across the tracks, had separate schools, used water fountains and bathrooms mark, 'COLORED ONLY', set in the balcony at the Florida Theater, if they got in at all. Finally, 1965, I think, the black kids crossed the tracks and nothing has been the same ever since.
At the same time white kids where digging the hell out Black music. I played in a band called The Souls. We where all high school kids and we love Soul Music. At one point, when our lead singer went off to college, we asked a recently discharged black-man, from the Air Force to join our group. He sang and played keyboards, and was a hit.. Not so with our parents, nothing overt come from it but still, you could fill the racism.
In a small town called Lawtey, just north of Starke, way out in the boonies was this black club. We actually auditioned to perform there and a date was set. We were so excited about this opportunity. It was as funky a place as any white-boy had seen. Any Black musical group you could imagine preformed there. To name just a few; The Temptations, The Isley Brothers, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and the list was long and scary impressive. The walls where covered with the photos of all the Soul Groups we had been listening to, as we traveled the back roads of northern Florida. For a white band with its newest black member, this was so far over the top, we did not believe our lucky stars.
But that gig never came off. Local Law Enforcement intervened and threatened to raid if we performed. I've said in other posts, that 'Jim Crow' can't exist without 'the law'.
We had a high-sense of pride being in a first ever integrated band. We played a lot of 'Frat-Houses" at the University of Florida, without incidence. But it wasn't always without hatred. At a bar call Bobbies Hide-Away, a drink was thrown on our black member for talking to a white woman. Mostly we played our gigs without problems. Over-all it was an eye opener.
In one small town in northeast Florida, there was a sign posted on the outskirts of town saying, "Don't let the sun set on you nigger". White kids in the South were acutely aware of racism, and hated it. But the adults where in charge and our parents chose to ignore anything to do with equality.
The Klan was active in Starke, burning a cross in the yard of a drug store owner for allowing blacks to set at his drug store counter. He had no choice for the Black crowds insisted. He had stationed armed gunmen on the roof of his store for protection against possible violence and destruction.
All over the south, 'Burn Baby Burn' was the mantra. Black people took their lives in there own hands fighting 'Jim Crow' and racism of every type. Our high school was integrated in 1965 without incidence. White kids and Black kids finally got a chance to know one-another. Whites supported the Black freedom movement, not the adults, but high school kids and college students.
To a freedom rider, our Constitution was a mockery of Justice. A hard thing for Whites to comprehend. Being the paper it was written on was holy. To a lot of Black-people the constitution was a joke, to others, justice for all was something to strive for, or this country would not survive. Young people saw the hypocrisy of Justice in America and rebelled. The fight for equality went into high gear, and it continues fifty-years later.
In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh was very perplexed that America would war on his little country, that was fighting a civil war. He had been a student of our Constitution. Why would the United States ignore its own documents and send its son to die in Vietnam for an Asian Race? Ho Chi Minh studied our fight with England and understood our battles to free ourselves of British Colonialism. Now, he was forced to fight against American Colonialism, and it sickened him.
Oh yeah...to be continued