The Bad Old Days

I've spent a lot of time searching our microfilm archive of the Tallahassee Democrat for stories about a man's cousin, a white student at FSU, who was arrested in 1963 in connection with demonstrations demanding equal rights for blacks at area movie theaters and restaurants.

He was a member of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality. Earlier actions, such as the bus boycott, had relied on economic pressure, and were solidly supported by the black community. CORE, whose members were primarily college students, introduced sit-ins and picketing, and began to provoke arrests, tactics with which ordinary black working people, understandably, had misgivings.

1963, Lord have mercy, what a hell of a year. Cuba, Vietnam, Birmingham, Dallas. I was 9 years old, but I vividly recall the fear of nuclear war. Our present troubles pale by comparison.

Yet, politics aside, what stands out is the number of traffic, aerial, and industrial fatalities reported. They were enormous. Government-mandated inspections and safety and health legislation have saved countless lives since then.

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