Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Billy Willis and Church Diversity, Part 1

If you were alive on November 22, 1963, you remember where you were around noon, California time. I was in Mr. Asbury's history class. Mr. Asbury was one of those teachers who no one could dislike. He was one of the nicest men I had known up until that time. Probably even now, he is one of the nicest I ever met. During class that day, the principal of the school came on the PA. He started out by saying that President Kennedy had been in a car in Dallas, Texas. Seriously, and not as a joke, my first thought was, "Why was he driving a car in Texas?" He went n to say that while President Kennedy was riding in a car in Dallas, Texas, he was shot and killed. Wow, that was tough to hear, even for a 12 year old. We were told that the National Anthem would be played and the flag would be lowered to half staff.

We all stood at our seats and they played the song. Mr. Asbury stood solemnly at the front of the room. Billy Willis stood at his seat and saw two girls begin to cry. He sort of pointed their way and started giggling at them. For crying. During the playing of the National Anthem, he continued to laugh. No one else made a noice, except the two girls, who were crying. Until the song was over. After it was over, Mr. Asbury went up one side of Billy Willis and down the other. He told him how inconsiderate and disrespectful he was to do that. The mild mannered Mr. Asbury clearly showed his disappointment with Billy Willis.

All the while, Mr. Asbury never called Billy Willis a bad name, tossed a racial slur at him or degraded Billy Willis. He just let Billy Willis know he was disappointed withhim and let Billy Willis known that wha he did was disrespectful.

Did I mention that Billy Willis was a friend of mine? Did I mention that he black? I only tell that story because I have another story about Billy Willis and me. And that I am reading a book on Church Diversity. So far, I feel Billy Willis was treated much better by Mr. Asbury than I am by the author of this book.

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