I spoke a few weeks ago about my journey to North Carolina on the train. One or two things happened which really brought to my mind and heart the effects of racism in this country.
The train ride back from North Carolina back to New York was quite an eye-opener. To give a bit of background, the train started its journey in Miami, Florida, wound its way up through Georgia and South Carolina, and picked me up in North Carolina before winding its way up the eastern seaboard and terminating in New york.
Here I was, enjoying my time in a modest sleeper car. Everyone else in the sleeper car sections of the train were white. Everyone who was sitting in coach, at least those who I saw, was black. Separating the sleeper cars from coach was the dining car and the cafe car. The dining car was where we took our meals. Those of us in the sleeper cars took our meals for free as they were included as part of the fare while those in coach paid. Those who chose lighter fare ate in the cafe car and paid for their meals regardless of class, and sleeper car passengers got free non-alcoholic drinks.
I went to cafe car once or twice during the trip for a snack or a drink and every time my eyes were opened to the stark reality of how different my life was compared to the others. While I am not rich by any standards, the distance in income level between myself and the African-Americans in coach was very stark. This was the vacation of a life-time, to ride the rails from the Deep South to the Northeast, gladly spending 10 – 18 hours in crowded cars and seats, while I lazed about in much greater comfort than those who were around me.