By Tara C. Beck
Being born in the early ’60s, I came along during the time integration was beginning. I was raised by a lady born in the ’20s to sharecroppers. And while Mama always told me to be nice to everybody, she was a product of her generation. The neighborhood I grew up in was also a racially mixed area so I had a hard time understanding where I fit between the prejudice and the life I lived.
I joined a club, Alpha Omega, and our “goal” was to “promote mutual understanding and respect among the races.” One of the camps I went to had a guest speaker named Thomas Moore.
Mr. Moore spoke about treating each other with kindness and respect. He asked us to sing along with the Diana Ross song “Reach Out and Touch.” But Mr. Moore had us change the words “If you can” to the words “YES WE CAN.”
Mr. Moore’s words reached not my ears but my soul. His message reached inside and I realized that kindness and respect are the most important thing we can give each other. In a world of hate and discontent, “YES WE CAN” makes this world a better place.
I do not remember the year or how old I was but I was no older than 16 years old. In the 40 years since I heard that message I have never forgotten Mr. Moore or his message. I try to live my life with the “YES WE CAN” mentality as my guidepost.