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A study in contrasts

Only days after the unveiling of the Robert “Bob” Hicks land marker in Bogalusa, the world was privy to an unsettling scene in Ferguson, Mo.

The events in Bogalusa and Ferguson presented sharp contrasts in the age-old issue of race relations in America.

Saturday’s unveiling of the land marker at the Civil Rights leader’s home on the street named in his honor shows how time can heal old wounds and divisions. It takes much work for that to be accomplished, but it’s not impossible. It takes real leaders — not opportunists — on both sides of the issue if any headway is to ever be accomplished.

Who would have thought 50 or so years ago that we would be celebrating the life and legacy of Robert Hicks? Certainly times have changed and people must change right along with the times. It seems some folks are still trapped in that 1960s era of backward thinking about race and can’t escape that train of thought no matter what the consequence.

All one had to do Saturday afternoon was witness the broad smile lining the face of Valeria Hicks as she helped unveil the land marker at her former home to see how far race relations have come in Bogalusa and Washington Parish. No doubt, the 1960s were turbulent times and fraught with danger for those who chose to stand up to authority and challenge the system. But stand up and challenge that antiquated system people like Robert Hicks and many others did. The end result is a better Bogalusa and Washington Parish as a whole.

It seemed someone had drawn a permanent smile on Valeria Hicks’ features Saturday. As she had every right to be proud, the gestures of praise for her husband from local, parish, state and national officials genuinely moved Ms. Hicks. All she could talk about was how all the people of different hues were demonstrating genuine love and respect for one another despite what happened in the past.

I’m sure no one in this area has put the Civil Rights era away like a book marker and closed the chapter, but forgiving — not forgetting — is the first real step toward overcoming one’s demons of that time period and moving forward with one’s life. They say history is the best teacher. I tend to agree with that thought.

It’s troubling whenever anyone is shot and killed by a policeman. The race of either player is of little consequence. I wasn’t in Ferguson, but Robert McCullough, the district attorney for St. Louis County, gave compelling arguments regarding why officer Darren Wilson was not charged in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Businesses were burned and looted following McCullough’s statement.

What I find bothersome is so little is noted nationally on the black on black crime all over this country. Where is the national outrage about that? Bethlehem Baptist Church associate minister Marvin Austin Jr. is addressing that very same issue locally with peace marches and is to be commended for his sincerity and diligence.

Valeria Hicks was so right when she said love is a powerful tool and the world would be a better place if there was more of it.

People in Ferguson could use a little love right now.

Randy Hammons is a staff writer for The Daily News. He can be reached at 732-2565 or by email at randy.hammons@thebogalusadailynews.com