What in the world were they thinking?

Sometimes I wonder, as I look at historical photos, how the people in them view themselves today.

I think, for instance, about the New Orleans mothers who woke up on November 14, 1960, got dressed, combed their hair (or tied a scarf around their rollers), fed their children, maybe packed a lunch or two, and then marched off to scream at a six-year old outside William Franz Elementary School.

What in the world were they thinking then? And, what in the world are they thinking as they look back on that time now?

How had they twisted things up so much in their heads that they felt justified screaming hateful things at a child because she wanted to go to school? Are they as horrified as the rest us now?

I bring this up on the day we celebrate Martin Luther King jr., and during a week in which we honor the peaceful transfer of power from one presidential administration to another following the most contentious election of my lifetime, because I hope we can hold ourselves to higher standards as we age.

We can stand together in support of so many principles — freedom, justice, equality, courage, honor, respect — even as we continue to debate the merits of the people we elect to represent those values.

We can condemn outrageous behavior we know in our hearts is wrong, and we should do it every chance we get.

As Martin Luther King jr. said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and God Bless America.

I wonder what these women were thinking as they gathered outside a grade school to scream at six-year old Ruby Bridges. I wonder what they are thinking as they see pictures of themselves today.

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