About 50 years ago my parents loaded my brothers and me into the family station wagon, along with suitcases, tent and sleeping bags, for a family vacation/road trip from Pittsburgh, PA, where we lived, to Sarasota, FL, where my grandparents lived. For a part of the trip we wound our way down the Blue Ridge Parkway taking time to marvel at the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley.
A couple of days ago I found myself, once again, traveling through that part of Virginia. Only this time I was alone and, thanks the the interstate highway system, racing by the beauty that I had been so excited to see 50 years ago. But that is not what I have found myself thinking about. This is…
I stopped for dinner just outside a town in Virginia that was only a couple of miles from the road I had traveled years ago with my family. As I waited for my food, an African-American couple was seated next to me. Across the room was an Caucasian mother with two bi-racial children. I paid attention. The waitress, who had taken my order and repeatedly stopped by my table to make sure I was enjoying my meal, treated the African-American couple next to me with the same attention and politeness with which she treated me. And, across the room, no one paid any special attention to the Mom and her children as she got up to leave and led her children across the room and out of the restaurant. I found myself wondering if that would have been the case 50 years ago?
I remember the quote attributed to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which says,”The long arc of history bends in the direction of justice.” Sometimes, especially for those who suffer the weight and tyranny of injustice, tomorrow is always too late for justice to arrive. But sitting at dinner the other night I whispered to myself “Thank you, God.” because for a moment I caught a glimpse of the reality of that long arc bending in the direction of justice.