Letter to the editor

I am one of those aging “Baby Boomers” identified also as a “Child of the ‘60s.” My adolescence was etched with images of The Civil Rights Movement watching in disbelief, as billy clubs and baseball bats, firehoses, attack dogs, and more were used to disperse the passive resistance of a generation or two or three of African Americans seeking equal rights and their places at the tables. Given some of the prevailing racial overtones of what happened in this country in the past 150 days, to perhaps better, the past 150 years, I thought the “Whites Only” signs - unannounced, not attributed, not explained before the fact, and eventually defended by the artist were perhaps a much-needed and very poignant “slap in the face.” They were a wake-up call, and perhaps a demonstration of how far parts of our current society and culture have drifted from the turbulent struggles of the 1950s through 1970s. Struggles that were to have alleviated the prevalence of “White Only” and “Black Only” mentalities. That the signs were offensive, means they were VERY effective in delivering a message, whether intended or not. If they made people of any color uncomfortable or angry, good - they should be both. If they were ignored that is a shame. If those signs made us individually and collectively pause for a moment to stop and think, they accomplished a lot and they did it well. We should then use their message to go out into our campus, community, and nation addressing the racial and cultural divides still lurking in too many places, and do something good to invigorate and rekindle constructive dialogues. There still are lessons to be taught and learned.

Fred Stoss

Associate Librarian