The deep south...

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

1963, Will Wright a young white man from South Carolina, living in a small town at first glance, quiet... Will reflect on the situation of the United States of the 60s, having in memory the speech of Pastor Martin Luther King, how will unfold thereafter, the life of this young man...

 

Sunday, September 15, 1963, Brownswood village, South Carolina, William J. Wright Jr. born August 24, 1946 in Brownswood village, I am the son of William J. Wright Sr. and Marta Graham Wright, their only child. I was blond, blue-eyed, with a small scar on my chin and a head like a first grader. I was pretty thin, but I could hold my own, I was a southern boy. Like every Sunday I went with my parents to the Baptist church to attend the service. We always sit in the front left of the congregation.

 

God. A brother from the congregation prayed to put us back in God's hands. Pastor Henry Scott took the Bible and pointed out the passages to be read and gave his sermon on the love between man and woman. The two beings owe each other mutual respect, love, the woman must be submissive to her husband as the church is to our Lordhaving given himself for the church, the man must bear his wife. The one must raise the other, and vice versa. He ended with a prayer, as was my custom at the end of the service, to exchange with the pastor. I asked him what he thought about what was happening to people of colour in our nation. He said,"The Lord has put everyone in their place, I don't understand why these people want to change the established order". I was confused by his answer, we are not supposed to love our neighbour. Pastor Scott's answer did not convince me...

 

I came home with my parents, we live at 7 Musgrove street, John island, SC 29455, it's a small place my parents inherited from my paternal grandparents. I turn on the television, I like to watch the newspaper on my way home from church. The news starts with breaking news, the announcer announces that a terrorist attack has taken place inagainst a Baptist church attended by people of colour. Four girls were killed and twenty-two people were injured. For the first time, I, a young white southerner, was appalled at the mindset of some of my white fellow citizens. My parents raised me to be respectful of others; we were different from the other people in our town. My mother called me so that we could eat as a family. I sat down at the table. My father asked me what the news of the day was. I said, "There was a bombing in Alabama, in Birmingham, four little black girls were killed. That's sad". My father looked down and said, "It's a tricky situation Will, men think they are doing things that they think are right, but sometimes it comes at the expense of others...". I realised that my father was also saddened by the situation, my mother did not speak out but generally supported my father.

 

Finishing my meal, a "Chicken bog" lovingly prepared by my mother, a local dish that I enjoyed immensely, I went to read a few passages from my Bible, before going to chop wood with my father like every Sunday. I meditated, I tried to understand where certain thoughts of certain "racist Christians" came from. Washington, D.C. I had watched it on television. I wondered if this dream could ever come true despite the mentality of some people, I also wondered "why our churches are only for white people and they are for coloured people, if we believe in the same Lord, shouldn't we come together?". The more the days and weeks went by, the more I questioned myself inside...

 

The next day I go to school, I'm a pretty bright student. I don't come from a rich family, but I manage to get a university scholarship, my school is segregated like most places in the south of the United States... I went about my day as usual... Usually I took the bus home, but on this day I wanted to walk home. I had about a six kilometre walk home. I needed that moment of solitude, of retreat after school. I was walking along and I heard a noise, and a voice said, "Please don't kill me, I don't want to die...", another voice replied, "I don't want to die. "Another voice replied, "Shut up nigga, we're going to beat you, you deserve it! ». Having heard this, I rushed to the place. I saw a boy from my high school, Robert Boccaccio, with another guy and I said, "Hey, you morons leave this young man alone or I'll have to break your mouth, Bob!". They turned their heads to me and Robert said, "You think you're a hero Will Wright? Let us beat this nigger, go away!". They were about to pounce on the poor young man, I lunged at them, hit Bob and his friend, to protect the young coloured man. The two delinquents ran off and Bob said to me, "We will get even Will, you have my word...". I am not violent, but I do not like injustice, I have always been a calm person, wise I would say...

 

, "Are you all right?"; "Yes, I'm fine, I've got some injuries but your intervention probably saved my life. What is your name?" I replied, "I'm William J. Wright Jr. and you?"; "My name is John Rufus Haley, nice to meet you". I decided to take John home. We had a great time talking to each other, discussing many things. was an intelligent person, far from the racist stereotypes of some. I suggested to my new friend that we meet after school so that he would not have to endure any more physical violence from Bob Boccaccio and his gang, which he accepted!

I went home and my father and Robert's father were waiting for me on the veranda. My father told me that Robert's father had told him that I had assaulted his son. I explained the whole situation and Mr. You beat my son to defend a dirty nigger?"; My father interjected, "Frank, your son assaulted a U.S. citizen, did you imagine that the kid would inadvertently die?"; "What's the nigger defense league? Bill, your son disfigured mine, and so did his friend Jerry O'brian". I felt an anger rising inside me, I know it's not right but Mr. Boccaccio was going too far, he didn't know his son... My father asked Mr Franck Boccaccio to leave the property! I had a discussion with my father who wanted to know my side of the story. He had already understood that I had simply wanted to help a person who was about to be beaten up for a purely racist reason...

 

The next day I was early to our meeting point. John arrived with his friend. He introduced himself, "Hi Will, this is Jemima Jacobs, my childhood friend and Jemima this is my new friend of a few weeks, William J. Wright Jr. Jemima greeted me, I greeted her back, and the three of us started talking. Jemima was as smart, if not smarter than John and I. It was interesting to have exchanges without worrying about our physical appearance, that's how I saw the world! Our friendship had grown from two to three people. We were trying to understand how each of the parties worked, to find ways to change the world of tomorrow. Of course, on our scale, it is complicated, but if we educate the next generations with an open mind like ours, we can go far! 

 

Jemima arrived earlier, before John, I was already there, we started to talk. I found this young woman of colour more and more interesting, as if I had feelings for Jemima... I could no longer follow the conversation because of what was going on in my head and my heart. I was torn between my feelings for Jemima and our friendship as a threesome. I didn't know if my feelings were mutual, at the same time John arrived. We had a good time together, we were like a family, we got together all the time, although it was on the sly so that other black and white people wouldn't see us together, which could cause problems... 

 

The three of us had been seeing each other for four months already. Jemima and I always arrived early. I started to talk to Jemima, I tried to explain to her how I felt about her, but I was having trouble. But, the young woman made me understand that she was attracted too, and she said, "You know Will, I find you very interesting, intelligent and very different from other white people I've seen. You never put me down, you... ". In a fit of courage I kissed Jemima, I was aware that in the south if anyone saw us in this situation it could be very problematic... After kissing Jemima I felt a sense of release, Jemima said, "I have feelings for you too Will, but you are aware that in this state, this country has become complicated for two people like us...". "I was about to reply to Jemima but John came in. He asked us what we were talking about, we explained that we were just wondering about our American nation... 

 

A few days later, the three of us met in the woods to eat together.

 

I heard a noise, turned my head and saw Bob with a group of six men, and he said, "So Will Wright, you hang out with the niggers, and on top of that you betray your race by kissing a monkey?"John glared at us, I was shocked, I wondered how he could have known that... "What are you going to do Bob Boccaccio? Don't you still have the guts to do things like a man, alone?". He waved to the others and they all jumped on us, I couldn't defend myself, John couldn't defend themselves... Bob said to me, "Since you love your niggers so much you will die like them...". I felt compelled to reply,"Robert Boccaccio, I will surely die that way on this day, but at least I know I will have died with my friends and my dignity". They tied us up, swung three ropes over a tree branch and put the rope around our necks... The three of us died because we were friends, one white and two coloured people from the south...

 


Submitted: May 23, 2021

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