My Dad, the 82 Year-old Jailbird

Phone call from my sister two weeks ago:

Me: Well, hi, thanks for calling back! I just wanted to say Happy Birthday.
Sister: Yeah, well, thanks, but Mom wanted me to tell you Dad’s in jail.

But maybe I’m conveying the wrong message here. My dad was only in jail for about 7 hours. And he was quite happy to be there. And my mom and my sisters and I were all very proud of him.

Long story short: In North Carolina (my home state where I haven’t lived for 23 years), the NAACP has teamed up with some Triangle-area churches and concerned individuals to protest the state legislature’s passage of a whole raft of bills threatening public education and anti-poverty programs. I won’t go into details here, but this video should give you the general idea:

May 20 was the third “Moral Monday” that the protest group met to call fellow North Carolinians to “Wake Up.” The first Monday, 12 folks got themselves arrested for not leaving the legislature when the police said to. Second Monday–28 people. Then came the 20th: 57 people arrested, including my dad, proudly re-living his sit-in days from 50 years ago.

He got bailed out at 2 in the morning. All is well; he’s retired, so this “blemish” on his record can’t hurt his career. But this episode serves me as a reminder that for many, if not most, in history, standing up for what’s right has been a dangerous business. It’s easy to see civil disobedience through the lense of time as something noble, creating inevitable change–and easy to forget how terrifying, chaotic, and destructive such action could be for the participants and their families.

How about you? Do any particular examples of civil disobedience give you goose bumps? Tell me about it.

9 thoughts on “My Dad, the 82 Year-old Jailbird

  1. Ya know, I think Jail is the one thing I would NOT want to try…no matter what it was for. (Well, unless it was to help my kids. And then it better damned well not be because they were being stupid.) I think I’m too afraid I’d end up in there permanently. 🙂

  2. A Dad with a Supreme Court case with his name on it can’t be all that bad of a guy Gretchen. I am not a fan of jail. It’s definitely not the Marriot. lol. Big kudos to your father. It took a very humble man to do what he did. 🙂

  3. Gretchen, please thank your dad for me. We all benefit when people stand up. Although the vast majority of people I meet agree with him, few can afford the repercussions of standing up. Sadly, few of us can afford the repercussions of not doing so. Society is a big pyramid and the poor are the base of that pyramid. If we don’t take care of each other, we all fail.

  4. In Japan, when the nuclear plants were leaking because of the tsunami, it was the elderly that volunteered to do cleanup because they had lived their lives and they wanted others to have that same chance.

    I like your dad.

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