Tuesday, October 8, 2013


“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
1905 Bluffton football team
This quote from MLK Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech of 50 years ago came to mind as I drove in to work last Tuesday. Later in the day, Professor Perry Bush and six students from his African-American history class were going to present at Forum about race relations throughout Bluffton University’s history. I thought it might make for a good blog topic.

And it was a good presentation – the panel shared the good, the bad and the ugly from Bluffton’s history. More >>>

Stories were told of high points in Bluffton’s history.

Guest panelist, alumnus Ron Lora, told of the football team’s bus stopping at a buffet in Northern Kentucky as they were coming home from a tournament game in the mid-1950s. When it became apparent that the restaurant manager was not going to allow the African-American members of the team to eat, the entire team left their trays and got back on the bus without eating.

“We were not civil rights activists,” said Lora. “We were just teammates.”

Stories were told of low points in Bluffton’s history. As one student told of an especially ugly racial incident on campus in the late-1990s she said with amazement, “This happened in our lifetime.”

As Perry spoke at the faculty/staff luncheon, he reminded us that Bluffton students are all coming from differing backgrounds. It takes just one student coming from a biased background to cause a lot of hurt. It’s then up to the rest of us to say “That is not acceptable here.”

How long will it take until we achieve King’s dream? When will be all be judged by the content of our character - not by the color of our skin, or the bumps on our chest, or the religion we practice, or to whom we are sexually attracted – but by who we are? Will we ever see the need fade away for the extremely-wordy EOE (Equal Opportunity Employer) statement to be published?

When asked why the student panel did not include any students of color, Perry responded that every member of his African-American history class is required to complete a project of their choice. He offered the opportunity to all of his students to present with him at Forum. “These six expressed interest. I wasn't going to twist anybody’s arm.”

I’m thinking that’s a good step toward equality.

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