Niagara Gazette

Columns

July 2, 2014

BRADBERRY: Happy 50th birthday, Civil Rights Act of 1964

Niagara Gazette — It was just another early summer day, a Thursday, so dinner was probably Mom’s exquisite meatloaf served up with healthy helpings of her home grown canned green beans and delicious hand-peeled potatoes with hot corn bread, and for desert, a tall, thick slice of hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream and Dad’s delicious homemade lemonade.

The gigantic dining room table, situated in the middle of the huge kitchen, the largest, most popular room in the house was always crowded, but always had room for more; anyone who showed up at dinner time was welcome to pull up a chair and join in.

But on that average Thursday afternoon, it was just family, the conversations were giddy, everybody had something exciting that they wanted to talk about.

My sisters were already picking out the clothes and bathing suits they wanted to wear when we got there — we were planning the annual trip “Down South” and everybody was excited, though Dad was beginning to sound a little iffy, like, maybe 1964 might not be a good time to travel in a station wagon full of kids with all “the trouble going on down there.”

We did NOT want to hear any of that, we had our hearts set on Florida.

For me, one of the last summers I’d have at home before I stumbled out into the strange new world, in LBJ’s Texas where the words to the songs, “We Shall Overcome”, and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” James Weldon Johnson’s so-called Negro National Anthem’s words began to dig deep and stick.

But it really was not just another early summer day, not just another meatloaf Thursday. Though I was giddy like the rest of the family I wanted to talk about what had just happened; LBJ had just signed the Civil Rights bill into law and all they could think about was Florida.

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