Over a barbecue grill last summer in a park in Springfield, Missouri, Jonathan Herbert and his friend Marlin Barber fell to ruminating about the challenges they faced as African Americans when driving across the country.
Barber, who teaches history at Missouri State University, was planning a road trip to Arkansas with his white wife and two young children, and was apprehensive about what they might encounter in the rural backwaters. Herbert had an idea – why not float the dilemma to friends on Facebook and see what came back?
“Sadly, it’s 2017,” Herbert went ahead and posted, “and we still have to consider the racial climate of some of the most beautiful places in this country before we decide to vacation there with our families.”
The comment sparked intense Facebook reaction. A black friend divulged the fact that he had been called the N-word in Oklahoma and had run into the KKK in Texas. “I remember not taking our kids through parts of Missouri or Arkansas out of fear,” he said.