Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Letters to the Editor

September 23, 2013

READER POINT OF VIEW: Coming to Terms with Goshen’s ‘Sundown Town’ History


Anderson, Einstein and King

Marian Anderson also had sung at Goshen College in 1953, and Martin Luther King Jr. came to the college in March 1960 for an address titled “The Future of Integration.” Willard Smith, a GC history professor and chair of the Lecture-Music Series Committee, invited King to stay at his home in 1960, much as Jewish physicist Albert Einstein had welcomed Anderson into his home in Princeton, N.J., in 1937. However, according to retired GC Prof. John Smith (Willard Smith’s nephew), King left Indiana immediately after his ’60 speech due to other commitments.

In the 2012 GC report, Nolt states that the overall message of Loewen’s book is important and that “‘communities who fail to acknowledge their racial past may have a harder time moving forward in a positive way.’”

Continues Nolt: “‘It’s not like we need to dwell on this and say the community is forever marked by it, but the other extreme would be to just not acknowledge it at all, which could blind us to ways that prejudice might continue.’”

Lee Roy Berry Jr., an African American Goshen attorney and government professor at Goshen College for 40 years, began teaching at GC in 1969. He endured a couple of profiling incidents with city and county police in the mid-1970s, but for the most part he and his family have lived peacefully for 40 years in the home they built in 1973 just west of Goshen’s city limits.

Regarding Goshen’s racial history, Berry stated recently, “We need to tell these stories. It’s easier to have a false understanding of our community than it is to deal with ambiguities. This process helps to foster healthy humility for all of us. And historical analysis helps to ground us better and see reality more clearly.”

Dan Shenk of Goshen is owner/operator of CopyProof, an editing business he founded in 1990. He was a reporter for the Elkhart Truth from 1986 to 1999, primarily covering Goshen. In 1993 he and Emory Tate Jr. established Goshen Community Schools’ Chess for Scholastic Success program, which continues today. Shenk has a B.A. in Communication, 1975, from Goshen College. He moved to Goshen in 1965, left in 1978 and returned in 1986. He and his wife, Vera, have two adult sons.


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