Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, segregation of races was something that was just a part of life. In the small town in which I lived black and white mixed very little. Part of the town we designated as “colored” town. The schools were separate and the only time I can remember stepping into the black school building was when some of our science class were asked to judge the science fair contests. Not only was housing segregated but so were the theater, water fountains, restrooms, restaurants, and any other public facility.


Danny Minton

At the local Gulf station, there was a congenial black man who worked there whose name I recall was Piccalo. I don’t know how he got the nickname, but it may have been from eating Pickle Loaf sandwiches with Piccalo being the derivative. He was a nice guy as I remember, but most of all I remember one particular event. My dad and his friend were in the front seat of the car with his son and me in the back heading out of town for a football game. Piccalo came over to the car to greet us as he usually did. After greeting the dads in the front seat, he looked in the back window to talk to us boys. He happened to touch the other boy on the arm, and the boy went berserk. Screaming for him not to touch him because he didn’t want to turn black!

Needless to say, embarrassment swept through the car. But who told him he’d turn black if touched by a black person? Chances are it was a relative, maybe his father, but certainly someone who he believed when told this lie. Prejudice is like that. Prejudice toward people for whatever reason is not something with which we are born. Things happen in our life, or people teach us certain things that create a part of us in which we allow these feelings to develop.

In 1949 the songwriting team of Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote a play entitled “South Pacific” based on James Michener’s book “Tales of the South Pacific.” The play deals with prejudice with one song, “You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught” representing the central theme of the story. The song was the subject of widespread criticism, many critics suggested its removal or the play would flop. One Southern state even introduced a bill that would make it unlawful to have songs that promoted “communism.” As to this song, one lawmaker stated: “a song justifying interracial marriage was implicitly a threat to the American Way of Life.”

Lieutenant Cable introduces the song with the statement that racism is “not born in you! It happens after you’re born…”

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Unfortunately, many of us have our prejudiced feelings because of the time in which we grew up or things we learned from our generation. We too often carry on the feelings and views of our past instead of making an effort to change the world of today.

I wish we could say that this is not a problem in our society today, but we all know that is far from the truth. Every part of the country has some group that is the target of prejudice in one way or another. Within cities and towns, we still see the divisions in communities, social events, and even churches. You hear it in the language, in the stares and the actions of people of all nationalities and races. It is certainly worse for some than others, but no one is immune from being either the target or the perpetrator of prejudicial actions and thinking.

Romans 2:11 tells us that God does not show favoritism. Looking at 1 Samuel 16:7, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

There is only one way that prejudice and racism will ever be eliminated in the world in which we live. That is simply to teach ourselves and our children to look at people through the eyes of God.


“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35


Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

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