We agree with several points Bob Gullette makes in his recent opinion piece (“Focus on present, not past,” Tuesday, June 11). It is important to learn from the past. It is important to promote kindness and understanding among people from all backgrounds.
This is why we think projects to learn about and lament our past, even the ugliest parts like lynchings, are so important. The famed Southern writer William Faulkner wrote: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” This seems very pertinent in considering the issue of racism in our town and country.
Racism has been a part of our country since its beginning. It has changed its face over the centuries, moving from slavery to lynchings and racial terrorism to redlining and Jim Crow to mass incarceration, but it has never gone away. Until we learn our history and connect the dots, it will continue to be a destructive presence in our country and institutions. We have to talk about our history, all of it, not just the parade-worthy parts.
It may seem easier not to dredge up the past, but learning more about our history ideally encourages us to look more critically about how things are now so we can follow up with concrete actions to improve things for everyone. At the very least, acknowledging our town’s history of lynching sends a message to our African American neighbors that we see their history of pain and lament it with them.
Rev. Scott Rollins and Regina-Wink Swinford