When the author, John Hope Franklin, was seven years old, his father moved to Tulsa in hopes of starting his own law firm. The goal was to support his family.
John, his mother, and his sister still resided in Rentiesville, Oklahoma. To get the daily supplies that the family needed, they walked six-miles to Checotah, Oklahoma. After walking six-miles, following the train tracks, John’s mother would flag down the train. Racism may not be a huge problem now, but in the past, it was apparent and out in the open.
The Franklin family boarded the train in a rush and without realizing they had boarded the “white” only section of the train. Not soon after, a white man, the conductor, approached them and asked them to move to the “colored” coach. Mrs. Franklin’s response to the conductor was, “We were not responsible for where the coach stopped and we have no other alternative to climbing aboard and finding seats as soon as possible.
” She also said, “She could not risk the possible injury of her and her children by going to the “colored” coach while the train was moving. (Franklin)The conductor ordered the train to stop. Instead of escorting the Franklin family to the colored section he commanded the family to leave the train. The family was thrown off the train in the middle of the woods and had to begin their walk back to Rentiesville, Oklahoma.
John was so upset that he began to cry. He did not understand at such a young age why the conductor had thrown them off the train. John’s mother then explained racism and the cause and effect of it.She said, “Laws required racial separation, but that they did not, could not, make us inferior in any way.
(Franklin) The lesson that was learned that day was a hard one for John Hope Franklin. Being a tender age of seven years old and trying to understand the racial segregation was a very difficult thing for him. His mother took a hard lesson and turned it into something positive. She let John and his sister know that just because the conductor had white skin and they have black skin does not mean that they are less inferior.
She taught them that having so much hate in your heart and soul takes too much energy.That having the energy for kindness and love would lead them to a happier life for the future. John used this experience to shape his future and became a man with a kind and loving heart. To accept a human being no matter the color of their skin.
We may all look different on the outside, but we are all the same on the inside. This story touched me. The way John’s mother used such a negative experience and turned it into a positive show the kind of mother she was. She seen people for who they truly were and taught her kids to have love, kindness, and compassion in the heart.