It wasn’t a long Wikipedia entry, but it was full. It lined up the people like a list of characters from the flyleaf of a play.
The six-year-old named Ruby, one of four who passed the test to go to a white school.
The mother who wanted a better education for her daughter and for African-American children everywhere.
The father who was hesitant and, later, became convinced.
The teachers who refused to teach while a black child was enrolled.
The parents who pulled their children out the moment Ruby walked in.
The one teacher who taught Ruby in an empty classroom for a year.
The US Marshalls who walked her to school every day of that year.
The woman who threatened to poison Ruby.
The woman who nailed a black baby doll in a coffin and scared little Ruby more than anything else they screamed and threw at her.
The first little white girl who broke the boycott and became Ruby’s classmate.
That first little white girl’s parents.
The market that wouldn’t let Ruby’s family shop there any more.
The employer that fired Ruby’s father.
The neighbors who watched over Ruby’s house and babysat when needed.
The neighbors who offered Ruby’s father a job.
Every good and noble shade of humanity woven together in contrast with the darkest.
And it reminds me that the Samaritan never set out to be immortalized forever in his own parable. Nor did the priest and Levite set out to play villain. They were just on their way, about their business when the opportunity came upon them.
This is very freeing to me. Not that I’m free from seeking out those in need, but free to help those as I walk, where I walk. I may not be able to choose great brave deeds, but I can choose to act bravely in the deeds before me.
Babysitting, employing, teaching, heroes are made out of such ordinary stuff.