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October 10, Then and Now

October 10, 1957, as recounted in Time magazine:

Two Negroes dressed in business suits strolled into a Howard Johnson restaurant near Dover, Del. one evening last week, went up to the counter and ordered two 30¢ glasses of orange juice. As they were handed the juice in containers, wrapped up to take outside, a waitress explained that they could not sit down inside because “colored people are not allowed to eat in here.”

At this point one of the Negroes protested to the manager, produced an identity card to introduce himself as Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Finance Minister of the new ‘African nation of Ghana; his companion was his U.S. Negro secretary. But the manager explained that rules were rules and Gbedemah and secretary paid for their orange juice, left it on the counter and walked out. “If the Vice President of the U.S. can have a meal in my house when he is in Ghana,” said Gbedemah, who had entertained Vice President Nixon during his tour of Africa last spring, “then I cannot understand why I must receive this treatment at a roadside restaurant in America.”

VP Nixon’s boss, President Eisenhower, apologized, as did the Howard Johnson folks.

Fast forward five decades . . .

Archbishop Charles G. Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana, was ecstatic and “overwhelmed that (Obama) won the Nobel Peace Prize,” he told journalists Oct. 9.

“I would like the world to look at it as an encouragement, a motivation” to recognize the talents and potential of Africans and people of African descent, he said.

“Blacks are as talented as anyone else … and I think the world is now coming face to face with the fact that if we are appreciated, we can give still more,” said Archbishop Palmer-Buckle.

The archbishop told CNS that Obama “definitely deserves” the prize and that the U.S. leader is an inspiration.

He recalled Obama’s visit to Ghana in July and how much he was moved by the president’s encouragement for people to take destiny into their own hands.

“He told the youths, don’t look to Europe, don’t look to America for solutions to your problems. You can, yes, you can. And I think we’ve taken it up … and we are going to do it,” he said.

Ghana was the first African nation visited by President Obama and he had quite the stay there last July.

My, how things change.

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I'm an ordained Lutheran pastor with a passion for language, progressive politics, and the intersection of people's inner sets of ideals and beliefs (aka "faith" to many) and their political actions. I mostly comment around here, but offer a weekly post or two as well. With the role that conservative Christianity plays in the current Republican politics, I believe that progressives ignore the dynamics of religion, religious language, and religiously-inspired actions at our own peril. I am also incensed at what the TheoCons have done to the public impression of Christianity, and don't want their twisted version of it to go unchallenged in the wider world. I'm a midwesterner, now living in the Kansas City area, but also spent ten years living in the SF Bay area. I'm married to a wonderful microbiologist (she's wonderful all the way around, not just at science) and have a great little Kid, for whom I am the primary caretaker these days. I love the discussions around here, especially the combination of humor and seriousness that lets us take on incredibly tough stuff while keeping it all in perspective and treating one another with respect.

And Preview is my friend.