When I Found My Wings, Betty Reid Soskin
When Betty Reid Soskin witnessed her neighbors’ racism in a community meeting, she knew she had to take a stand.
BETTY REID SOSKIN: I read in the local paper about this young black couple in a housing development out in Pleasantville and that the Improvement Association was having a meeting of how to deal with this problem. They didn't recognize me as being African-American. And they went on with their meeting and said all the vile things that no one had ever said to me.
And finally someone said, "If we can't get them out any other way, we'll use the health department on the basis of the filthy diseases that they bring in." At which point, I couldn't any longer sit there. So I got up. And I went to the front of the room and said, you know, I was African-American, that I was one of those people, that I'm sure that the neighbors had met.
I must have talked for 10 minutes and then bolted. I suddenly panicked and I ran down the middle aisle. And I went out to my car. And I could hear footsteps behind me.
But those footsteps that I'd heard were people leaving. And that there was never another meeting of the Improvement Association. I thought that I'd failed, but I think in looking back, I think, I think that that's when I really found my wings.