When the "Coloreds Only" sign disappeared from a water fountain at the train station in Tony Kushner's hometown of Lake Charles, La., one day in the early 1960s, it was a sign of the dawning civil rights movement, which had emerged elsewhere in the South but only subtly in Lake Charles.
In Kushner's liberal Jewish home, relatives spoke excitedly of the changes while an African American maid, Maudie, washed and ironed all day in the hot basement. In her starched white uniform, she toiled as black domestics had done for generations of white families in Lake Charles.
Our knee-jerk reaction every time the Rev. Jesse Jackson opens his mouth is, "Oh no, not again." We know it's unfair, we know it's jaded, but we have the same reaction when our friend's child practices his trombone scales in the living room the umpteenth time. Sure we like him, but....