This year’s annual Bartow Community Relations Committee Diversity Luncheon, held Wednesday, Sept. 19, at the Bartow Civic Center was an occasion to share thoughts how far both the community and the nation as a whole has progressed in race relations. It was also the opportunity to remember and reflect upon the past, beginning with the recounting by emcee S.L. Frisbie of the 1954 unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan. In that landmark decision, the Supreme Court put to rest the notion of “separate yet equal,” declaring that was not the situation at all in segregated public schools.
Frisbie related several anecdotes, from younger years in which he had been verbally attacked by his peers for declaring blacks (called colored people then) should not be treated differently because of their race, as well as an incident years later when he took a stance opposite that of a “largely black organization.” In that incident, a member of the organization publicly denounced Frisbie at a city commission meeting, calling him a racist. To this day, Frisbie resents having been called that.
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