Belief in One Race

by Sheldon Campbell
California, USA

Belief in One Race

It was 1958 in Deep Creek, Virginia. I was six years old, and my father, like most fathers are to their sons, was a superhero to me. It never occurred to me that he had a reason to fear anything because he never showed any fear. Then one evening, my sister came running into the house, hollering that a bunch of men with guns were outside.

My dad took a look outside and his face darkened a bit. He stuffed a revolver in his back pocket, and as he went out the door, he told us to go to the kitchen and stay there.

My mom and my sister looked scared and pulled me back as I tried to get to the window to watch. Although I never got a very good look, I remember seeing a lot of men with rifles, shotguns and torches, some of them wearing white robes with hoods. There was a lot of shouting and a fair amount of cussing. Since my dad was a sailor, I recognized some of that.

Finally, I heard my dad tell them that if they didn’t get off his property right then and never come back, he’d guarantee that at least six of them would never see their families again.

This had started when my father intervened when a group of young bullies were roughing up a much younger black kid from down the road. These men were telling my dad that he was forgetting his place and he’d better remember the way things were.

My dad was white, raised in Meridian, Mississippi, during the depression, and he knew very well “how things were.” But he had also shared foxholes in Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and Korea with other soldiers who were scared just like him, missing their families like him, and sick of killing, just like him. Some of them were white; some of them were black, brown, or yellow. But they all bled red, just like him. And they all got cold, hungry, sick, and sad, just like him.

My father never took his gun out of his pocket that day. But apparently the men believed him because they left, grumbling and waving their guns, and they never came back. I wasn’t old enough to know how dangerous that situation was.

My father always taught me that all you have to do was what you know is right, and then things pretty much take care of themselves. He proved it that day and on many other occasions.

Dad was raised in a bigoted culture by bigots. He was taught to act like a bigot. Everything about Mississippi in the Depression years screamed of racism. He was taught to believe in only one race.

I guess those foxhole buddies helped confirm that, because to the day he died, he only believed in one race: the human race.

Originally published as HeroicStories #410 on March 18, 2010

17 thoughts on “Belief in One Race”

  1. This why on surveys, census reporting, etc we should quit asking what race people are. I usually report other and write in “Human”

    • I hjave been taking surveys for years and I do basically the same thing. I scroll down and click ‘other’ but would wait for any follow up and then reply with, ‘human’. It is way past time for paperwork to stop asking about race.

  2. Wonderful story. I also agree with Karanel who wrote above about stating “Human Race” on forms.
    When my daughter was born some thirty years ago. I was given a form for her birth certificate. It did not ask for “Race” but asked “Ethnic Origin” so I filled it in precisely as to her heritage. Celtic, Germanic, Anglo Saxon, American Indian. When we got her official birth certificate they actually typed it in as I wrote it. I was very pleased!

  3. I am a Vietnam Vet and concur greatly with this wonderful story. It was true in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and every other battle our great military has fought in the past 100 plus years. Skin color doesn’t matter when it comes time to defend our coutry, so why should it matter at any other time.

  4. What is it going to take for equality to take hold, for everyone? Equal means equal, any sort of discrimination for any reason is wrong. If you think your bible is against it, parents said it was bad, or you just think something is icky, it is still discrimination, and IT IS WRONG.

    This story has my eyes leaking again, just like it did when first published.

    • When I saw the title of this story I knew I had read it before.
      I had the same reaction as JSB to this story,then and now.
      Wish I had you as a neighbor.
      Gota’ go and get some thing to dry of my desk.

  5. Different colors, different beliefs, different culture and many more endless differences. One thing is the same, the color of our blood is RED. I love this story. I salute the man who respects and has belief in one race. Kudos!

  6. We see so many acts of bigotry on our TV screens on the news but the vast majority of people do realise that we are are all part of the human race. It takes a special one like this to show us what that really means and to step up and defend what he knew was right – we need more people like him around.

  7. My father was raised in the hills of Arkanas. We are white. I was raised with the N word and much distrust. Of other races.
    My change came when I spent 2 years in Vietnam. I was side by side with soldiers of all races. Including comanding officers. I found out we are of the human race and color didnot matter. We had each others backs. We delveloped freindship and comoraderie.
    When my Army tour was over. I came home and seen all races the same as me. We all have the same dreams and wishes for life. Only a few of all races are trouble makers. I learned I could sit next to someone of another race, and have a very intressting conversation. Niether one of of us being suspecious of the other. Then become freinds.
    My father watched the change in me. He changed some, but not completely. The problem is the way we are tought from a young age. I believe until you have been put in a position of having to trust the man next to you. It is harder for some to see that all of our blood runs red, and is interchangeable. Skin color is only skin color. Not who the person is at heart.

  8. If humans were all the same, life would be so terribly boring! We need all colors, cultures, languages, religions, belief systems, etc., to provide the spice in our otherwise sometimes boring existence. Celebrate diversity!

  9. That was the best heroic story I’ve read yet. The fact it is over 50 years old does not change its impact – just the opposite. The fact that man was willing to stand up to a mob of KKK people with guns in the 50s is _truly_ heroic.

    Men and women like this person are what keep my faith in the Human Race.


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