In a country founded with the words “all men are created equal,” Rock Hill is holding Race Equality Week this week.
The week comes just days after a Muslim mosque opened in Rock Hill. In that mosque Friday, in a country where all religions are supposed to have the same equal shot and not be bothered, were black Africans, Arab Africans with brown skin, Black Americans, and Middle Easterners.
The men and women in prayers were all colors.
The question was asked of Mohammad Hossain, a college professor of Asian descent, and James “Jumah” Moore, a Black American born and raised in Rock Hill: “If all races in America are supposed to be equal, why is there a need for a Race Equality Week?”
“Good question,” said Hossain, a trained mathematician in the world of science, where numbers are what they are and are not subject to color or interpretation.
“In America we should not need to be reminded that all races are equal,” Hossain said.
Moore said, simply, “Just the fact that there is a race equality week means somebody somewhere knows that all races are not treated equal all the time.”
There are events this week to show what should be known to all. On Tuesday from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Rock Hill’s Boyd Hill community center, a “World Tour Passport to Learning” will feature Hispanic, African and Asian food and culture.
Every day in Rock Hill is a world tour of races. On Saturday, a foundation working to perpetuate the legacy of the Friendship Nine met. That group of young black men from the former Friendship College in Rock Hill spent a month in jail after being arrested for trying to integrate a downtown lunch counter.
A white Catholic, Brother David Boone, was at their side 52 years ago and still fights into his 80s as a member of the NAACP and other committees that focus on race.
Brother David tells anybody anytime that racism is less than it was, but that blacks still are not always treated the same as whites.
The Friendship Nine in recent years has been lauded for its courage to fight racism. There have been public displays, signs, awards. All deserved.
Several talk to school groups, with children of all races staring back at them.
David “Scoop” Williamson Jr. says in each of those speeches: “Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you aren’t as good as anybody else.”
One of the nine, Clarence Graham, said this past week that so much is better now. “But all is not better,” Graham said.
Black joblessness is at least twice as bad as for whites. For black men, unemployment is an epidemic, as is the number of men arrested and filling prisons. Black poverty rates at at least double white poverty rates.
At an apartment complex on Celanese Road, almost all Hispanic, with the workers leaving before dawn to toil in fields and orchards and construction sites, the kids walk or ride buses to school. They bring their gleaming faces of hope to schools where each must try to learn in a different language than what’s spoken at home by parents who lay bricks or clean toilets to survive.
Those kids need no race equality week to know that their race is not the one looking down, but up.