(Excerpt by Ben Carson, from America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great. // It's sobering to realize some of Carson's encounters with racism are less than 45 years old. Perhaps the closeness of these events can also encourage us; while change is often slow, imagine the transformation we could see in our lifetimes if we become "rebels for positive change." – Adam Forrest, Zondervan)
Does America have its flaws? Absolutely… [But] one of America's most respected legacies is indeed that of rebelling for change.
My Road to Change
I grew up in inner-city Detroit and Boston at the tail end of one of [the] dark periods in America's history. Slavery had long been abolished, but widespread racism remained. The civil rights movement was on the verge of completely transforming the social landscape, but such change often comes slowly. And today, decades later, I can still pinpoint the moment when I came of age regarding racism in America.
Franklin Park is where Ben Carson "came of age regarding racism in America."
My brother and I were playing in Franklin Park in the Roxbury section of Boston when I wandered away alone under a bridge, where a group of older white boys approached me and began calling me names.
'Let's drown him in the lake.'
"Hey, boy, we don't allow your kind over here," one of them said. He looked at the others. "Let's drown him in the lake." I could tell they weren't just taunting me, trying to scare me. They were serious, and I turned and ran from there faster than I had ever run before in my life…
Growing up, we faced constant reminders of how we were less important than white people. Even some of those who claimed to be civil rights activists could be heard saying such things as, "He is so well educated and expresses himself so clearly that if you were talking to him on the telephone you would think he was white" …
One day my uncle William was giving me a haircut in the kitchen while we watched the news on television when I saw white police unleashing ferocious dogs on groups of young black people and mowing them down with powerful water hoses. Even little children were being brutalized…
It wasn't just our inner-city neighborhood where racism flourished; I found it at school as well. [In] the eighth grade, for example … I knew that my winning the [highest academic] award would have been an eye-opening experience for many people at Wilson Junior High School, since I was the only black student in the class… One of the other teachers was so upset about this that she literally chastised all the white students at the award ceremony in front of the entire school for allowing a black student to outperform them academically. The scene is depicted in the movie about my life, Gifted Hands, although in reality she ranted and raved a lot longer than the movie suggested…