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August 16, 2013

Racism in the Community

Roy Meachum

Anthony Skinner moved his family to the county in the 1980s, so reported Frederick News-Post writer Bethany Rodgers. I left Bethesda for Frederick of in 1983.


Mr. Skinner was present in Winchester Hall for a discussion by community leaders on the present state here of racism. Also along were Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and Board of County Commissioners President Blaine Young; they protested there’s little discrimination around now. Both native sons, they didn’t respond to prejudice in the old days.


In order to gather material for my 20-year newspaper column, I attended a Ku Klux Klan rally in Rocky Ridge, north of Frederick. They wore the full regalia, without masks. I had trouble not laughing. They were deadly serious. They burned a cross, naturally. Whatever his title, the head of the KKK staged a press conference and solemnly denounced blacks and Jews. He was Irish and probably Catholic, two groups mercilessly persecuted by the original Klan.


Blaine’s father, Mayor Ron Young, joined by Alderman William O. Lee, Jr., tried to do all in their powers to harass them when they came to Frederick. But the real ending came from attorney Willie Mahone and his younger brother, also a lawyer, Dan, leading a crowd to chase them out of the band shell; tired of ridicule and punches, the Kluxies ran out of Baker Park to the safety of their cars, pickups and homes. The Mahones are African Americans; the pack they organized was of various races and characteristics. As far as I know, Blaine was not among them.


On the other hand, fellow panelist Kavonte Duckett, student government president at Frederick Community College, said examples of discrimination might not be reported to local police. She added: “I walk the streets of Frederick daily, and I see things continue to happen.” She is also African American.


Having grown up in pre-World War II Louisiana, I am more sensitive than most whites to the blacks’ point of view. Ex-slave Uncle William took care of me in New Orleans and presented a personal example of how intelligent and caring were his fellow African Americans. His face comes clearly to me when a fellow human being says a word that can be taken for discrimination. I’ve been known to act against actions.


Mr. Skinner related a story: when they moved here his wife was pregnant; they were sitting in their “parked car outside the Willow Brook community when a suspicious resident called the police to check on them,” according to Ms. Rodgers’ account which ended: “They felt we were drug dealers.”


I’m consternated that with all of the sheriff’s push against immigrants, most them of mixed-races, how Chuck Jenkins could sit in Winchester Hall the other night and say “he’s not heard anyone to complain of racial profiling in the county.” He must not listen to his departmental policies.


Frederick remains firmly on the south side of the Mason-Dixon Line. Having been born farther south, I recognize prejudice; I find it every day.


(By the way, Bethany Rodgers is very intelligent, perceptive and professional in her work. She’s the best political reporter/columnist the Frederick News-Post has ever had. I am impressed.)


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