The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in August brought back a swarm of memories. As a student-journalist in Chapel Hill, N.C., in the early 1960s, I was witness to countless sit-ins, mass arrests and other gut-wrenching scenes.
Some of the scariest moments for me came on Saturday nights as robed and masked Ku Klux Klansmen paraded around with their burning crosses, cheering speakers who called blacks, Jews and Catholics unimaginable names. The Klansmen saw reporters as co-conspirators with the demonstrators. Jesse Helms, the soon-to-be U.S. senator, who at that time was a conservative commentator on a TV station in Raleigh, even labeled my colleagues and me at the University of North Carolina student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, a bunch of Communists.