How Oscar winner helped me learn history of Jackson, Ohio

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

Sometimes it’s funny, the way things connect. Here’s my most recent proof of that point…
As I read The Dallas Morning News, I cut out articles and bits of information that I think will be of particular interest to family and friends in other places. I call this “correspondence by clipping,” and find it an excellent — and often time-saving — way to promote connection and closeness across many miles.
I have a dear friend from many years ago, when we both labored in Chicago’s south suburbs in the fields of intergroup relations. Don was our town’s community relations director, and I was on its citizens’ committee, so we worked closely on many projects having to deal with successful integration and the maintenance thereof. Remember: That was back in the ’60s, when we made decisions that seemed right and good at the time, but eventually backfired on us — like school busing. Oh, well…
Now Don is retired and living in Philadelphia, where he’s become an avid letter writer to The Daily Inquirer. In my last note, I asked him if he had yet gotten to see Oscar-winning film “The Green Book” and if he was aware that Jews used to have a similar book, one that helped travelers avoid the places with “no dogs/no Jews”policies that didn’t advertise them on signs outside.
No, he hasn’t seen the movie yet; yes, he knows about the Jewish book; and he’s had an interesting personal experience w/the real “Green Book.” Here is his ever-clear memory of the days he lived and worked in Ohio, before coming to Illinois:
“In 1968, I stayed for several weeks at Mrs. Moorman’s Tourist Home in Jackson, Ohio. I had left the Toledo Board of Community Relations to become the Jackson Human Relations Commission’s executive director, and had to leave the family behind to see the Toledo house. So I needed a place to room in Jackson, and decide I could introduce myself to the town and learn about it by staying in ‘Green Book’ lodging. Mrs. Moorman’s place was not far from my new office. If I’d stayed only a day or two, I’d have learned nothing much, because Mrs. Moorman was initially a bit suspicious of me — she didn’t ordinarily have white guests, and this one was a municipal employee in a town with a long racist history.
“But,” Don continued, “I had time to work through her unease. She was knowledgeable and perceptive, and began to share stories. And soon after, she ran for and got elected to the city commission, the first black commissioner ever.”
And now, for the finish: “While lots of not-good stuff happened in Jackson during that time, I have fond memories of Mrs. Moorman, a woman in her 70s during those great days of the Green Book.”
I had never heard of Jackson, Ohio, until I got Don’s note the other day. At first, I thought he was talking about Jackson, Mississippi, which we all know was a “not-good stuff” place in those days.

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