E-mail from Billy titled My start and early years fitted me to work in the movement/crusade

From William A. Percy
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The only reason I can agree with some of your thinking is that I too of course did not think of the "issue," even when I got kicked out of the Army in late 1956. And when I still read of people under the same circumstances coming out, certainly in that time, as evidenced by letters to the magazine, I am amazed that I was able to find a job and get on with my life so easily. But while I personally, even in L. A., did not think of starting a crusade, and as you say, and took care of the necessities of life, when the opportunity came along, with ONE, magazine and organization, I immediately took it, seeing full well, that we should work to change the bad things. I was not in a situation, as the many movie stars were. I do not give them a pass, as they KNEW of the possibilities and could and should have even then tried to support a change, as Harry, Dale, etc recognized, and they WERE some involved with politics, and the Communist party work. I also had already taken part, minor thought it was, in politics, by handing out literature for Adlai at LSU and then in the middle of Vermont at 3d. AND I had joined in the start of efforts to educate people in my area of the coming racial integration. As I think I've said, in Bossier High School in the late 40s, the YM/YWCA held retreats in several states for the HI-Y people and one of the main items was that they were racially integrated, and we were to help learn how to meet people of different races, religions, etc. (At LSU most of the people from the south were Catholic, most from the north were Protestant, and I believe it was policy to try to integrate room mates by putting one from each section in a room, etc. We didn't even have dancing at LSU at early 50 as I recall.) And LSU people, including me, also supported meetings between students at LSU and Southern, again Methodist (Wesley Foundation and YM/YWCA) and we supported the Baton Rouge bus boycott, which was successful, merely by picking up people who needed a ride while there were no buses, so they didn't suffer, the company did. I don't recall how the media dealt with it, but I can tell you I know how things were in Shreveport/Bossier for black citizens, terrible. So people, even young ones DID understand that in America we were able to work for change.

I was actually called to the Dean of Men's office and told I needed to spend more time on studying than I was on crusading. And what he/they didn't know but I did, was that no amount of studying would make me do better, and now all these years later, I can tell you that either a god or fate gave me all that I needed to do what I would end up in doing in life, crusading. But I know that I was able to do this because I had support from my family and also found such great people to work with.

But I do think and thought then and now, and still have no answer, that while it is everyone's duty to work and try to make the world better, that it is quite possible that change might come only when we have made things ready, and often even another source would be the main ingredient, and perhaps cell phones, or the internet or wars or whatever might lead to the change as much or more than our sincere efforts. Does anyone know for sure, or perhaps it works both ways. But religious, as I was then, or anti-religious, we have a duty to make the effort when we see the problem, and support others who are doing something even if we can't.

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