Gardenhire speaks on intolerance

Posted By | February 7, 2002 12:00 am

Emily Moorehead
“It’s one of the most evil things a person can have in their heart,” said Ben Gardenhire of prejudice.
“You’re hating something that God made.”
The classes of Mrs. Connie Harris at the White County High School were treated to a talk from Gardenhire, a Sparta resident, recently.
He spoke eloquently about racial prejudice and intolerance.
Gardenhire told a story of when he was a young man and on a trip to South Carolina.
Traveling by bus, he told of how the transport stopped at a terminal where food and beverage was available.
Gardenhire said he entered the terminal and waitied patiently as the waitress took orders, but each time she would come to him in the line and he tried to give his order, she would ignore him
He said he thought perhaps she didn’t see him, so Gardenhire said he went to the back of the customer line, but the scene repeated itself.
His order was not taken.
He told of politely speaking to the waitress, and then she went and got a man who came out of the back of the restaurant, and told Gardenhire he was going to call the law.
Gardenhire said it was then he discovered the restaurant was not in the habit of serving patrons termed then as “colored people.”
Gardenhire told of how he continued to be polite, and he returned to the bus still wanting breakfast, but resigning himself to waiting until another stop.
He said a fellow traveler, a lady, came into the bus bringing him food and beverage for which he happily reimbursed her.
Until that time, he said, he had never experienced racial prejudice, citing he was never treated in that manner as a White County resident.
“It wasn’t anything I did,” he said of the instance, “it was just the people and their prejudice.”
He captured the attention of students as he spoke of other instances in which he encountered prejudice, and he told students, “You can’t change who you are but you can change what you do.”
“One of the things everbody in here needs to understand is if you put God in your life, that takes out the hatred,” he said.
“It will be a light to you, and allow you to see people in a different way.”

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