In 1950, I was in the Army and traveled to North Carolina to visit some friends. The car broke down, and I had to take a bus. I was somewhere in Richmond, Virginia. I asked the people waiting there, black people, for directions to the Greyhound bus depot. We were still talking when the bus arrived.
I sat behind the driver so I could tell him where I wanted to go.
The driver did not wait for me to speak. He said “You’d better go sit at the back of the bus.” I asked “Why?” and he said “Well you’re colored aren’t you?”
Being 19 and from California, I said, “No, and even if I was, I wouldn’t go sit back there.” The driver looked over at the white people sitting all around me and drove on.
The anger and hatred that radiated from those bodies was so great I felt like a rock had fallen on me.
The minute Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made up his mind to leave the comfort of his church and step out into the community, he took up his cross and carried it to his death for all of us.
Bernice Requenez, Fresno