Driving into Greensboro following the early morning dawn, I am delighted to be stopped by the flashing red lights and long arms of the railroad crossing. I sit patiently, listening to the roar of the train speeding by, and try to remember the last time I had to sit at the tracks waiting and waiting.
I’m further delighted when I drive down the narrow, 2 laned Elm Street – I’ve passed Maple and Oak and Pine I’m sure – and easily find the Congressman’s Office right in the middle of downtown. And right across from the Woolworths!!! I’m tempted to go in and see if they still have the collapsible orange striped baskets with the wooden and metal handles that adults picked up for shopping around the store!
I find as espresso shop just opening a few blocks down Elm, which has several modern buildings scattered between the many, old red brick store fronts where it appears small businesses can still make it in this town. There is no evidence of Wal-Mart or Macy’s!
Returning to my truck, several more African-Americans wave and whistle! I motion folks to join me, but they don’t pause. I search my memory to see if I can remember who is supposed to be joining me this morning. One of the more pessimistic cp’ers living here has warned me about how busy most wimmin in North Carolina are, taking care of children, husbands (or not), and working. This is a very last minute action. I have assured her that I would do it without anyone – the important thing is that the stand for Peace is made, not the number of folks standing – although I appreciate numbers!
No one has shown up by 8:10 so I decide the least I can do is to stand a block down where there seems to be lots of traffic heading east on a larger 4 laned one-way street. I can see the truck and the Congressman’s Office as well as influence lots of drivers.
I take a couple of signs on posts out of the back of the truck and head for the corner. People drive by, read the signs, and at first there’s not much reaction. Then folks warm up and start waving and honking.
Of course, the single, ubiquitous angry white man , undercover cop with shaved head in an unmarked police car who would be so bland if not for his rage, shouted “we have to get them there or they’ll be over here getting us”.
I still don’t have a quick, challenging comment to fling back – and these fellows move fast – so I try to get him to stop for a moment. He has pulled over to the sidewalk to lean over and yell at me.
I ask him how many countries is he willing to attack and kill civilians so they won’t attack us? How many people are you prepared to kill all over the world as you tell yourself you’re doing this to protect you – you are not doing this to take their oil?
He turns out to be the ONLY negative response we get that morning. An amazing, bright, young white womon joins me shortly after the undercover cop speeds off. I return to the truck with banners, as Sunny is willing to stand holding banners.
As I jog up the street, past a modern building sitting on the corner with rows of mirrored windows high up around the 4th thru 6th stories maybe, I notice several beautiful little birds scattered on the sidewalk. They have yellow green bellies and wings that shimmer making the mirrored building look dark compared to their glory.
A young man in a blue uniform with a long stick is picking up garbage – he has already given me a shy, wide smile and peace sign. I sadly point out the birds and we both shake our heads in wonder. Now I notice there must be 8 or 10 of them – they are appearing as if by magic.
When I return from my truck to the corner, Sunny and I mourn briefly for the little lives. The young man has returned with 7 or 8 other young blue uniformed men with long sticks and they all pick up the birds and put them in waiting dark green trash bags.