This is What an Ally Sounds Like: Charles Morgan Jr., the Day After the 16th Street Church Bombing in Birmingham 9/16/63

I wish there were an actual recording of the speech itself, rather than just this re-reading of it, but still, this is powerful…and a reminder that white people have a choice as to whom our role models will be. That more people know of George Wallace and Bull Connor than Charles Morgan Jr. tells us most all we need to know about how even “white” history is taught in this country, and how little white America is prepared to embrace true heroism in our own ranks, opting instead for the phony and morally vacuous pretenders to the title, most of whom fought to maintain the status quo or who helped to establish it in the first place. I would take ten Charles Morgans over any one of the nation’s founders, and over 99 percent of all white Alabamians in 1963 (and most of them still today, sadly).

It is the example of people like Morgan, which gives the lie to the old canard that “you can’t judge people then by the moral standards of today.” Because even then, when most whites accepted apartheid, there were always those who didn’t (just as there had been those opposed to enslavement and indigenous genocide). That even one Morgan existed means simply this: if your family was there and they didn’t take the same stand as he, they were cowards, and entirely complicit in evil. No excuses and no exceptions. They were and are to be condemned for their venal embrace of white supremacy, and nothing — not your fond remembrances of how nice they were to old people, infants and puppies, and not the warm recollections you may have of time spent on their porch swing, or whatever — can redeem them to history.

But there is still time for you, for all of us. Here’s hoping we will use it for justice.

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