James B. Earley
James B. Earley (5 April 1934 / Mounds, Il)
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Racism - Just Another Word..'Til Once Experienced
I was born and reared in Southern Illinois. That region of Illinois then a part of the Segregated South. The schools I attended were not as functional as those the white kids enjoyed. Appreciating movies at the local Roxy Theatre required a lonely climb upstairs to the balcony. I've sipped water from fountains designated 'Negro Only, ' and well remember the 'Colored' signs at the rear of the 'Tri-City' bus. At an advanced age, in the center of one of the World's most renowned regions, where least expected, I've heard the disparaging word 'nigger' directed my way on separate occasions.
As an activated USMC Reservist during the Korean Conflict, I was deployed to Parris Island, South Carolina. Arriving in Beaufort soon after daybreak, famished, amid thoughts centered on an uncertain future, I was oblivious to the cultural mores around me. Dressed in full military regalia, toting a fully packed sea-bag, I entered the nearest restaurant seeking a mere breakfast meal. I was met at the door with words I shall never forget, 'We don't serve Colored People here.' My Country had just ordered me to submit my life to protect it, with death if necessary, yet found it convenient to deny me a decent meal in a comfortable setting.
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