Bravery at Woolworth's

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“Don’t worry man, I’ll remember your order.

We’re the only two Asians anywhere near this place,” the bartender smiled.

A little while back I got to visit Woolworth’s in Nashville.

I got to sit at the counter where Rep. John Lewis was arrested for the first of over fifty times over the course of his Civil Rights career.

I got to have shrimp and grits at the site where older activists would tell younger students to brace themselves for all the hate that was about to come their way. They would remind them that nonviolence meant bearing whatever was to come.

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This wasn’t the exact same restaurant. The historical site was acquired by a restaurateur in early 2018 and restored after its 1960s appearance. That was enough to make eating there quite a vivid experience.

Just before, I visited the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, that had a simulation of the original Woolworth’s. You could sit on a replica barstool and strap on headphones. If you shut your eyes, you could feel the kicks to the back of the seat, hear the slurs thrown your way.

Sometimes we make a very big deal about having the right opinions. Not nearly as much emphasis is placed on doing the right thing when it comes to it. I have so much admiration for people who make real sacrifices for the things they believe in.

Philippe Lazaro