Morris' Musings

Rev. Morris Hudgins, Senior Minister

I have mentioned in worship services that I grew up In Ferguson, Missouri. Several of you have asked me to give my reactions to the tragedy that has occurred and the response of the Ferguson community. First, I want to say how sad this is to see the neighborhood you lived as a child become a place of violence and protest. I can imagine the streets where I played baseball, walked to school and work.

My family moved to Ferguson when I was three and we left when I was thirteen. At that time Ferguson was 90% white. Yes, like most neighborhoods in America, it was segregated. I worked on an organic vegetable farm when I was eleven. I was the only white person except for the owners. All the others came from a black community, Kinlock, adjacent to Ferguson. I learned very early that I was now allowed to go to Kinlock to visit a friend I met at work. The only fear I had was of an aggressive dog I passed on the way to school each day.

When I entered high school, integration began to take place. I witnessed some conflict between the races. My family then moved farther into the suburbs as part of "white flight." I later returned to visit Ferguson as an adult and was quite impressed with the house I lived in as a child. The black family that moved in had improved it.

I did not know the problems that were brewing because the police department and government in Ferguson were primarily white while the population was a majority black. I see this as a lesson for cities across the nation. As an analyst said, “There are Fergusons close by where all of us live.” The keys as we move forward are two-old: integrated neighborhoods and the sharing of power and authority. St. Louis County is learning these lessons and so must all of our cities.

Westside Unitarian Universalist Church

616 Fretz Road

Knoxville, TN 37934

(865) 777-9882

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