Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sweaty Protest

I never walk home for lunch when it’s in the upper 90s. Why? One word: sweat. I’d have to change clothes, towel off, sit in front of a fan (on High) for 5 minutes…then squeeze in lunch before heading back to the library. I always wimp out in August, getting as many rides to and fro as possible—usually from Julie. She actually offered me one today…just before noon. In fact, I had even asked her for one when I left the house this morning. “Hon,” I said. “It’s gonna be close to 100 today, so I might need a ride home later, if possible.” No sweat for me.

My attitude changed, though, at the office…when I almost accidently discovered that 54 years earlier—on this day—tons of people were voluntarily walking through the streets of Montgomery, Alabama in 99 degree weather. They were walking to work. Walking to school. Walking home for lunch. Walking when they could’ve been riding. It was the latter (hotter) half of the Bus Boycott. Sure, a number of people hitched rides from friends and passersby. But most walked. And, I imagine, most sweated.

In their honor, I decided to walk home (instead of ride) for lunch. On my way I contemplated—tried as hard as I could to feel—what it would’ve been like to be an African-American man or woman walking in protest of racial injustice. I wondered if it wouldn’t have felt quite as hot, knowing that your reasons for walking were so noble. Would 99 degrees have felt more like 95? Or would it have seemed hotter…as you thought of the bigotry that led to the boycott & not knowing if the peaceful protest would even make a difference? For me, today, the walk seemed a bit cooler. It almost seemed shorter. It even seemed slightly less sweaty. I can only hope it was the same for those admirable souls (soles) in the Summer of 1956.

P.S. Too hot to pick up trash. :-)

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