Darkness before dawn

Fifty years ago this week, Greg Wittkamper graduated from Americus High School in a scene that vividly displayed the intolerance of the times and suggested the promise of a better day to come. That dichotomy is the essence of my book, “The Class of ’65.” At the commencement, held on the first Monday in June, Greg (shown here in his senior portrait) was booed when he rose to collect his diploma. After the ceremony, he and his black friend from Koinonia, Collins McGee, were chased from campus by a pack of men throwing rocks and spewing hate. But something else happened that day: Before the commencement, one of Greg’s classmates. David Morgan, shook his hand and congratulated him in front of the other students. It was the most considerate gesture Greg ever received from one of his white schoolmates. Years later, David was in charge of planning their 40th class reunion and set into motion the reconciliation that forms the centerpiece of the book. As this graduation season winds down, let us remember that a diploma is only the beginning of a true education.