We five souls from Beaufort, SC (where the articles of secession were crafted) head out tomorrow for what we expect will be an emotional pilgrimage. For me, this trip is a closing of the circle that began over 50 years ago when I moved to Winston-Salem, NC to live with my grandparents. That move coincided with the Brown v. Board of Ed decision that rendered "separate but equal" schools systems unconstitutional. My grandfather, self-educated and provincial in the sense he had never traveled beyond NC and TN, taught me my first Unitarian lessons of relying on reason over orthodoxy and my first Universalist lessons to love all humankind as they have inherent worth and dignity. Paradoxically, he was a loyal Methodist, but railed against white churches for their biblical rationalization of segregation (at their best) and condoning violence against African-Americans (at their worst). He taught me to challenge clergy and the church when they were on the wrong side of love. He also challenged me to sit at the back of the bus with the black folks (and that is what he called African Americans in the mid-50s as a show of solidarity until the shackles of segregation were thrown off.
So to my maternal grandfather, John K. Pierce: this trip is dedicated to your memory and the universal truths you modeled for me at a very impressionable age. And to the early grounding you gave me to the importance of working for justice to make this world a better place.