2020 – 1968 on Steroids?

By Mary Sansom

In 1968, I was 14 years old and in junior high school. My parents had moved us back to Minnesota from California the year before and my brother had just graduated from high school and was facing being called up in the draft (Vietnam loomed in his future-along with racial riots and war protests).  I vividly remember the days Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were murdered and thinking this was the second worst year of my young life; 1963 being the first when President John Kennedy was murdered. But now; in 2020?


Where do I begin?


In the sixties, we lived in several places all over California but in a little southern community where we briefly lived and attended church on Sundays we were very much in the minority, one of three white families. (Please understand I really hate using “color” to describe people as I really do try to see people as human beings not color).  After school, I was let off the bus at Mrs. Hemphill’s house (no day care in those days) and my best friends in elementary school both had a darker skin tone than me. At that age, I did not see color, I saw people.  

I wish I could say it’s the same today. Now it’s black, yellow, red and white and I can’t help but wonder why does the color of someone’s skin matter? A song I learned in Sunday school class keeps running through, “Jesus loved the little children; all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white; they are precious in his sight! Jesus loved the little children of the world” The children grow up to be adults and I am dumbfounded why adults forget this.  

Fast forward to 2020 - How am I coping with today’s riots and COVID-19? I am not. It’s very stressful battling the COVID-19 virus, being stuck at home, not being able to get together with family and friends (I miss hugs) having to sanitize everything, wash hands frequently, wear a protective mask (and in some instances protective gloves) when venturing outside or to the store.


As if COVID wasn’t bad enough, add a senseless, brutal murder of a black man on a Minneapolis street by a member of law enforcement while three of his co-workers (all of whom have sworn to protect the citizens) stood by watching this heinous act unfold and did nothing to stop this murder.


Growing up, we’re told “call a policeman” for help. I still believe policemen are there to help, but those four monsters (for that is what they are) have shaken my belief. No thanks to them, again there are riots and on a scale that matches 1968-which I thought was in the past.


My local’s union office is across the freeway from the airport and near the Mall of America (MOA). I have seen some of the effects of the riots. Many businesses are boarded up like a war zone complete with huge snowplow dump trucks blocking entrances, security check points and constant, roving police and security patrols keeping a watchful eye out for trouble.


Did we step back in time? I thought I was over being scared.  


“Jesus loved the little children of the world…”