Mrs. Trumbull lived on an old plantation in Mississippi in the 1950s. In his Study of Courage and Fear, Harvard professor Robert Coles tells her story. A native of South Carolina, Mrs. Trumble was “unquestionably a Southern lady” - from her family pedigree to her own community status as a white churchgoing mother of four to her refined Southern accent. And yet a doctor in her town described her in 1958 as “the most outspoken integrationist who has ever managed to stay alive in this state.” Using her position for the purpose of bringing unity between white and black communities and desegregating the Mississippi culture made her quite unpopular and puzzling even to some members of her own family. In discussing her treatment from most of her white friends, Mrs. Trumble said,
“To them I’m sick, mentally ill. They wouldn’t even believe YOU if you told them I was sane. They would say you’re crazy, too. That’s how they dismiss anyone whose thinking they don’t like, or they fear. They call the person insane, or they say the ideas he advocates are crazy ideas."
When I think on Mrs. Trumble’s comments here, I see them reflecting what appears to be a common human reaction to those whose thoughts challenge us to change our views on positions we’ve clung to like a baby’s comfort blanket…thoughts that challenge the status quo...Read More