I just put your name up there, Rufus, so that you might think you ought to read it.
I'm only going to tell the story of a single incident, which relates to the days of segregation and "deep, philosophical discussions about it".
When I was about sixteen (circa 1954), I ran across one of my old colleagues from the caddy pool. We were both working in town at that time, and only went out to caddy sometimes when we didn't have anything else to do. I can't remember his real name, if ever I knew it, and I just barely remember what he looked like. We simply called him "Sonny", but I really don't think it was his given name.
At that time, I'd become sort of interested in racial relations and education, so I was asking Sonny about his school. It became obvious to me that they were not given exactly "equal" educational opportunities.
One of the things Sonny said as we were talking was "Did you ever meet Hilliard?" My answer was, "Maybe so, when I was in the fourth grade, the principal of the 'colored school' was introduced to my class". Sonny said, "A large man?" I said, "Yeah, that must have been him".
I think that Sonny and I both were somewhat disillusioned, because yesterday, I Googled Hilliard High School, Bay City Texas, and found the obituary of Asa G. Hilliard III. Only a little is on the WWW about his father Asa G. Hilliard II, for whom Hilliard High School was named, but I could find no connection to Bay City. I'm not sure that there was time in the life of Asa III to have lived in Bay City. Check it out. If Hilliard III was only three years older than me, then, if the Hilliards had lived in Bay City, it would probably have been better known when I was a kid.
The Hilliard family must have been very well educated, from what I read in the obit. And, of course, we see in history many examples of learned blacks throughout most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, leading to the present time.
I think when I was growing up, the blacks were tagged with "shiftless and ignorant", not because they wanted to be that way, but under segregation, their potential was limited. The Hilliards were a good example of the fact that 'colored folks' could be industrious and well educated, but, in those days, "what was the point", in the mind of the average black person? They had to make their living in the "white man's" world, and live in an isolated area among their "own kind".
Things are not perfect, nuthin's perfect, but they're much better now, and I hope they'll continue to get better.
I'm afraid that this is probably another "draft". I will probably return more than once to update this. I very rarely think I've said everything to my satisfaction.