Thursday, January 05, 2006

Unhappy in Oak Park

This lady didn’t like it in OP,

the only place [she] ever lived where she didn't feel welcome.

"They were so suspicious of the Eastern establishment," she said. "'Harvard' [her alma mater by way of its women’s college, Radcliffe] was a dirty word. I always voted Democrat, but there was only one other person in Oak Park that I know of who did. I was scared to death to mention it to anyone."

Still years before the Civil Rights movement, [she and her husband, Rev.] Martin [Sargent] — fed up with the racial intolerance they saw around them — began to organize ways to document the racism, mostly by bringing black people in from Chicago and having them try to shop at segregated local malls.

It was a difficult time for the Sargents in many ways, and a time of change. They had their first two children before Martin was reassigned to a church in Foxborough, Mass. — a place where they felt more at home.

This would have been in the mid– to late 40s.  She is Barbara Sargent, 84, interviewed in the Bath, Maine, Times-Record News, “in her stately living room with her dog sleeping on her lap.”  She had grown up in NY City, daughter of a Lutheran pastor in mid-town Manhattan across from Central Park, where a flock of real sheep was tended by a real shepherd.

In Massachusetts “they felt more at home.”  Then there was Maine and Paris, France, where she thrived.  They got to know Martin Luther King.  She got over her Oak Park experience, apparently, which is nice.

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