February 27, 2014

Local reverend discusses evolution of civil rights over 6 decades


It's doubtful anyone would dispute the world has changed dramatically since the 1950s. Economically and socially Earth has gone through, and continues to go through, a constant state of evolution. For many, this progression goes unnoticed and people go about their lives blissfully unaware of the changing dynamic around them. 

For men like The House of the Lord Church Reverend Vaughn Wand, these changes have been nothing short of mesmerizing. An Oklahoma resident since the advent of the Civil Rights Movement, Wand has had front row tickets to the evolution of the world, the country, the state and Grady County. He took some time to sit down with The Express-Star and detail the struggle and progression of African American's over the last 60 years. 




 "This is the decade when blacks begin to start confrontation. The movement was not joined, but there was unsettlement going on. The armed services desegregated in the late '40s and we started noticing that institutional segregation existed. The '50s was the decade when we began to say this is not going to work anymore. We saw the elimination of separate, but equal laws and the case of Brown vs. The Board of Education. That was a monumental step, but didn't solve everything. Before that ruling we would get left over textbooks from the white schools. It was a sign that things were beginning to change and we were chipping away at the institution of segregation." 




"This was a period of awakening. This was when the struggle was joined. Oklahoma was never known as a hard Jim Crow state, and prior to this time blacks in Oklahoma were largely Republican. It wasn't until the election of 1960, that we started voting Democrat. The Democratic Party spoke a language of change and we were engaged. Oklahoma didn't see massive demonstrations like those in Birmingham, or Jackson, but we had confrontations. They were small, but they were significant. Despite the ruling in Brown, there was still segregation. It used to be if you went to a white restaurant, you went to the back door for seating. People began sitting in dining rooms in spite of open hostility. The Civil Rights Movement awakened blacks in small town America. It taught us, we don't have to limit ourselves to the side of town we live on, and we should be allowed to participate in functions equally. Chickasha actually integrated its football program years before Lincoln School closed." 

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