Wilkins - 2
issues of war and peace, of prosparity and depression. But rarely
in any time deem an issue lay bare the [illegible] heart of America
itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or
abundance, our welfare or security, but rather to the values and
the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation.
"The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an
issue. And should we defeat every enemy, should we double our
wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue,
then we will have failed as a people and as a nation."
For this perspective leadership, although we are still at
work on the business of achieving equality, every American who
understands and loves his countyr gives thanks.
The new phase of the old struggle began February 1, 1960,
when four young Negroes sat down in a lunchroom in Greensboro,
N. C., and asked to be served. One of the four in this Greensboro
sit-in that was to sweep the nation, I am proud to recount, was a
member of the NCAAP chapter at A. and T. College in Greensboro.
Later he told his story in the these brief words:
"I had served in the U. S. Air Force and had seen men eat to-
gether, study together and fight together, regardless of their race
or color. But when I came home to my state, I could not order a
piece of pie or a hamburger and a cup of coffee at the poorest of
lunchrooms. For me, training as a phsycian could wait until this
question of simple human dignity was resolved."
Apparently there were thousands of black youngsters and many
older ones who felt the same way. They had just been awaiting a
signal. News came one of the arrest of several hundred young