A Baytown Sun columnist recently wrote an article stating her reasoning for being fortunate to be born in America. she shared a number of thoughts, including the freedoms we enjoy, outstanding medical facilities, various shopping venues and other amenities that we enjoy in this nation.

This article made me contemplate the reason that I was glad to be born in America. The America, I as a black person, was born into was entirely different from the one the author of the article was born in.

The America I was born into had laws in many States of this nation that restricted my personal freedoms. 

I had to ride in the back of the bus. If I traveled in southern states, I needed a green book to find lodging for the night or to find a place to eat. I had to use designated rest rooms and drinking fountains. I had to attend segregated schools that lacked the same resources as the white schools. 

The America I was born into limited my employment and career opportunities, no matter what educational level I achieved. I if could afford to, I could only purchase a home in limited neighborhoods. Even when serving in the nation’s military, I was not allowed to eat with my fellow white soldiers in many restaurants in parts of the nations, or get a hotel room for the night.

The America I was born into had laws in nearly half the states of this nation that prohibited interracial marriage, punishable by lengthy prison sentences. 

The America I was born into even redistricted the basic constitutional rights to vote, serve on juries and freedom of speech. 

The America I was born into enforced its racial discriminatory laws with force and violence. Many Americans died for freedoms that they really should not have been fighting for.

The America I was born into witnessed the murder of a 13-year-old black boy, Emmitt Till, shot in the head and thrown into a river in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman, who later recanted part of her story. The perpetrators of the murder were never convicted even when they later admitted to the crime and sold their story to a national magazine.

The America I was born into would see a governor of a southern state stand in the door of that state’s number one state supported university to prevent black students from enrolling.

The America I was born into would see the beatings and murder of countless Americans both black and white, for protesting America’s racial discrimination.

However, I am glad I was born in America because countless courageous, black and white, Americans took action to eliminate the scars of racism. A southern born U.S. president signs a sweeping Civil Rights act that eliminated legal racial discrimination. 

I am glad I live in an America far different from the one I was born into. For that reason, I am glad I was born in America.

Ray Wilson

Baytown

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