I was in Murfreesboro just a week or so ago. I have been making regular trips there for decades now. I remember when the town was a quaint Tennessee community with a couple of red lights and a town square. I’ve been returning to the area over the decades because I have dear friends who live there. Friends I grew up with back home in Columbus, Georgia.
Murfreesboro has changed dramatically over the years. Urban growth has transformed Murfreesboro into a bedroom community of Nashville. My good friends continue to live in the same house they’ve always lived in. The town has gone through some lovely renovations but the biggest change came to the neighborhood. It used to be that I had to drive way out into the country see my friends. Now that the city has come to the country, it is as if they were time-warped into a thriving metropolis. There are great places to shop and eat, to worship and relax. I enjoy Murfreesboro very much, in not small part because I enjoy every opportunity I get to visit with Jerry and Patti Burke.
We have a long history, the Burkes and I do. It spans most of our lives. Friendship is an invaluable commodity these days. Do not waste it. Do not disregard it.
As soon as I heard White Nationalist were marching in the streets of Murfreesboro, I called my friends to make sure they were okay. They were. They were at home watching the Georgia game, which is exactly where anybody with good sense should have been.
Residents of Murfreesboro were urged by city leaders to stay home, Patti said. Some of the city’s business owners had boarded up their windows to keep them from being damaged by marchers. As I listened to Patti recount the many precautions leaders in the city and business owners were taking in response to the marchers, I couldn’t help but be hearkened back to the days when Patti and Jerry and I were all caught up in the then federally-mandated busing programs. Integration came to Columbus during our high school years.
Can you believe this is happening all over again? I asked Patti. I never thought in my lifetime that we would return to sort of behavior we saw as kids growing up in a segregated South.
People all over the world look for reasons to hate others, Patti said.
Patti has traveled to every corner of the world and practically every nation, so her point is well-regarded. Yes, people all over the world find reasons to hate other groups of people.
It’s just such a damn shame.
After all the work and the sacrifices others made to teach us to be a better people than this, we find that some of us aren’t better people. Too many of us are bigots. Too many of us have failed to create a kinder, more gentle world. In fact, some people aren’t the least bit interested in making the world a better place. Some of us, far too many of us, it seems, just want to blow the damn thing up, and everything in their path.
Despite its history, I have never found Murfreesboro to be a hotbed of intolerance and bigotry. I’ve been inside it’s churches, heard its preachers call for a greater love and unity for all.
These groups, organizing on the Internet and picking which town they will march in, mistakenly assumed that Murfreesboro would be a town friendly to their position of White Nationalism. They thought wrong. The counter-protesters in Murfreesboro outnumbered the White Nationalists by a wide margin.
Imagine throwing a wedding for 200 people and having only 20 people show up. Yeah. Busted. White Nationalists found themselves unwelcome in Murfreesboro.
This is a case where the kindhearted outnumbered the mean-spirited.
A case where the only people made to feel unwelcome were the haters, not the people they direct their hate toward.
The residents of Murfreesboro stood up to those who sought to divide it, sought to sully it, sought to bring out the racists in it.
Nuh-huh. No way. Not in our town you don’t.
Murfreesboro‘s response to the White Nationalist marchers was a shining example of where Love truly did win.
It’s a good town. A welcoming town. You should visit there sometime.
Unless you are a White Nationalist, of course.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of CHRISTIAN BEND: A novel (Mercer Univ. Press).