Race in the Tri-States

Older generations saw it first-hand, while younger generations read about it in history books -- racial segregation in America.

We've all read about Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955.

But that type of segregation didn't just happen in the South.

I met a Tri-State woman recently who had a similar experience in our area.

She and other black children were bussed more than 30 miles away to Hannibal, because they weren't allowed to attend the same school as white children.

That meant having to catch a bus at 5 o'clock in the morning just to arrive at school on time.

That all changed in the mid-50's.

Viola Majors was able to graduate with fellow white students in 1957 from LaGrange High School.

But even then, she wasn't able to go on her senior class trip, simply because she was black.

That type of segregation wasn't confined to just Northeast Missouri.

Viola Majors says, " It hasn't been that long ago that blacks could leave anywhere in Quincy. We weren't allowed to live in Quincy. When my husband and I bought our home we could have afforded an 85,000 home at that time in '66, but they wouldn't allow us to buy that type of a home in Quincy."

Majors is now a well-known leader in our community.

She received a Woman of Achievement award from the Quincy YWCA last month for her community service.

Part of that community service includes co-founding a group to discuss and improve diversity and equality issues.

CARE stands for Citizens Advocating Racial Equality.

KHQA's Rajah Maples attended a meeting last month to talk with Majors about Race in the Tri-States.

CARE members have met for 13 years now. They meet Tuesday nights at John Wood Community College. The group welcomes anyone to attend regardless of race or gender.

Majors says, "The group had to because it was black and white. we continued to meet on Tuesdays to discuss what had taken place through the week. The difference between whites having all the privileges and blacks having none. We discussed everything. "

Jim Burns also co-founded CARE.

What's the goal of the group? Burns says, "Well, the goal of the group when we started out was citizens advocating racial equality and that's what we held to. Wherever there was an issue where someone was not treated fairly and it looked like the reason why was because of the color of their skin, that was an issue that we felt was appropriate for us to deal with."

Do you think there has been any progress made in 13 years?Majors says, "Yes, I do. I don't say that it was a big impact but it has helped both black and white."

Both Majors and Burns say more than anything, members of the group have been able to learn more about the opposite race.

Burns says, "I think that the thing that we get out of meeting with this group is me getting an understanding of what it is to be black and black people getting an understanding of what it means to be a white person trying to deal with the issue."{>}

Members of CARE all told me racism is very much alive in the Tri-States. We asked them about some of the issues that are most prevalent right now.

Be sure to tune into a continuation of our special series, Race in the Tri-States, tomorrow and Thursday to find out how far we've come and some of the challenges ahead.