AJC: A tale of remorse and reconciliation in Americus
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has an amazing story of a man who stood up for integration 40 years ago... and the reconciliation only now beginning to take place with his high school classmates: "One morning last May, Greg Wittkamper drove to the post office near his home in the West Virginia mountains and found a surprise in the mail: an invitation to his high school class reunion in Georgia. It had been four decades since he graduated from Americus High, and he had never heard from anyone in the Class of '65. He figured they were too embarrassed.
Wittkamper's senior year was the worst of his life. On the first day of classes, he rode to campus with four black students to show his support as they desegregated the school. A mob pelted the car with rocks and bricks. It wasn't the first time the white boy inside had felt like an outcast.
As he sat in front of the post office, Wittkamper reread the invitation and smiled. Finally, he thought. He began to leaf through the rest of his mail and noticed a familiar name on one envelope: David Morgan. He opened the letter.
'I expect you will be quite surprised to hear from me,' it began. 'If you remember me at all, it will likely be for unpleasant reasons.'
Wittkamper remembered. While Morgan hadn't called him names or tried to jump him, he was one of many classmates who jeered as others did. They spit on him, dumped food on him, tore up his books, pushed him down the stairs, peed in his locker. A couple of guys even hit him in the face.
'Throughout the last 40 years,' the letter continued, 'I have occasionally thought of you and those dark days that you endured at our hands. As I matured, I became more and more ashamed, and wished that I had taken a different stand back then.'
Wittkamper stared at the letter. He had gone to the post office expecting bills and payments from people who were buying land from him. Instead, he found the promise of reconciliation."
It's worth the read.