by JS O’Brien
When I first heard, I was jubilant.Â For a 10-year-old white kid living in aÂ South we all thought was under siege, hearing that Martin Luther King was dead was like hearing that Satan had converted and joined the Southern Methodist Church.Â The ogre was dead.
We were safe.
Very quickly, we learned that weÂ needed to fear again.Â My county was about 50% black, and seemingly all of them were set to converge on the courthouse square of my little town.Â They were then set to march down the main street and US highway that ran right past my house.
My father was away from the area, working, so my mother told me to get all the guns in the house, load them, and be prepared to protect her and my sister if they stormed the house.Â I sat by the front door when they marched by.Â I sat there, trembling, surrounded by my single-shot .22 rifle with the sawed-off stock to fit my skinnyÂ shoulder, the lever-action .30-.30 carbine, and the .38 police special revolver.Â The safeties were off.Â I didn’t know how quickly I might have to fire.Â I didn’t think I could stop them, but I could take a few with me.
All they did was sing and walk.