In 2015 I helped facilitate a forum with Linden youth from the private academy and the public school. The kids shared how upsetting it is to them that they don’t often get to interact with one another. They were clear on how racial division was operating in their community to keep them apart. They all wanted a lot of the same things for their town that any kids, any people, want: things to do, places for young people to gather, opportunities to do things together outside of school, a positive community identity.
I was angry and sad for those students then and I’m angry and sad for them now, in the wake of the violent letter written and published in their local paper by the editor. I’m still angry about the intentional re-segregation of my home school system in Tuscaloosa. I see how decisions made by powerful adults in our community hurt us kids in various different and connected ways, according to race and class and geography.
I know there are good people in Linden. I’ve met some of them. I’ve met good good kids. And I believe that our communities can get better and build positive community identity and opportunity for all of us.
Each of our communities has played a role in an ugly, racist past. And each of our communities is so much more than that. We can't overcome our past by ignoring it, but by confronting it and working through the pain and tension together we can build truly united communities.
In Linden that can start by the community demanding this guy step down. And then listening to the kids who are still pushing for change.
K.C. Vick is a founding member and lead organizer with Hometown Action. They live in Montgomery with their partner.