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Oglesby: We shouldn't hide our racial history
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Warning: This column could be touchy, sensitive, controversial, but I strongly believe it's something that needs to be explored and implemented.

Some readers gripe that overly disparate attention is paid to black history. It's a given some of that is racial prejudice. I hear (negatively) every so often from a self-purported KKK leader. Some of them as well as Nazi-like skinheads remain around. The good news is they're the exception, not the rule.

I also hear constant complaints about the huge illegal immigration population, mostly Mexican, in our community. In this case what most say they want done for realistic practicality can't be done. As a result, total and partially correct information is spread along with perhaps more outright falsities. None of this addresses solving the problem that needs solving.

Back to history: As a united people, we need to know our cultural histories. When we know it, we gain a greater sense of pride, self-worth and understanding of other cultures. How do we learn it? From history books for sure, but also included should be literature. Literature complements and makes history more understandable with details of problems, efforts to solve them and eventual success. We learn and better understood history and heritage through works of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Solzenitzen.

Unfortunately, and ironically, the worst oppressors of minority literature in our country are our minorities themselves. That's what we now explore.

One of the greatest American stories is the desegregation of races, particularly the Negro race. How it happened over more than a century is told factually through books, personal and news media accounts. What's left out? The literature telling the whole story of what happened, good and bad. Ironically, the worst oppressors of such literature are the minorities themselves.

Blacks find the Confederate flag insulting and try to suppress it.. It existed. The missing literature could tell the story for both the new black generation and the younger who don't yet understand. The song "Dixie" is a great, rousing piece of music and doesn't have to be but is reviled by most blacks.

Some of the greatest literature is suppressed and even its authors' original text was changed in reprints under the guise of political correctness. Think "Tom Sawyer," "Huckleberry Finn" and the numerous Uncle Remus tales. Though fictional, they're based on how segregated life really was, both the beauty and severe ugliness.

How can we expect future generations to fully understand? They're being deprived of reality. Today, new editions of these and other books are being edited to eliminate supposed politically incorrect language.

The "n-word" was used almost exclusively by Southern whites as we were growing up. I use "almost" because exceptions existed. My brothers and I could expect a licking if our parents heard us use it. We were instructed to say "Negro."

In Lumber City, where I was a senior before integration, Dad, who was principal and also coached, would schedule baseball games with the black school, and more whites attended than blacks. In Gainesville's City Park (Bobby Gruhn Field) more whites than blacks watched as the Fair Street Tigers won consecutive football state championships, once without being scored upon all season.

Dad came to Lumber City after being fired from another school for admitting a black child whose white father with whom she lived claimed her. Future generations need to know about the past accomplishments.

Stories like those abound but aren't in the literature that teaches how our people reformed. Today, there remain predominantly black and white churches, but now it's not forced segregation but cultural choice. In our church, we have multiple races, including deacons.

Boycott commerce if you choose, but our people will be much the better if we let our literature be just that.

Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion editor of The times. His column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com. You can reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30501.

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