Georgia Says

The Times, Gainesville, Ga., on nation's racial progress:

Fifty years ago this week, a seminal moment in history was off many Americans' radar.

This was the era before cable news and the Internet, so the only view most had of the event was on the evening news and in the daily newspaper the next day.

Even then, Martin Luther King Jr.'s address before the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington was relegated to many back pages, including in this newspaper. Had he spoken of his dream for a more just society before a quarter-million people today, his speech would be broadcast live on every news network, streaming online video and seen by anyone with a TV, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

That half-century span in how news was covered is only one aspect of how different our society was then and now. That African-Americans felt the need to gather in the nation's capital to affirm their civil rights showed it was a time when such rights were not assumed.

The nation as a whole, and the South in particular, were just beginning the slow move past segregated schools and the "back of the bus" public mentality that had prevailed for so long. ... King's speech certainly laid the groundwork for this vision: A nation where children would join hands across all racial, national and religious barriers and "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

To some extent, we have reached this plateau; our nation's youth now grow up in a more integrated society than their parents and grandparents, a giant step in the right direction.

It's clear the United States of 1963 and of 2013 are not the same.

Two hundred years of slavery, followed by a hundred years of Jim Crow laws, then 50 years of sporadic progress have produced a distinct cultural divide. Though our racial tapestries have intertwined in many ways —in pop culture, food, language —there's no denying that the experiences of white and black Americans remain different at many levels. And because of that, our views of the world have been molded by our backgrounds and experiences, sometimes in ways we're not aware of.

Achieving King's vision has never been easy, nor is it a given. Even after 50 years of milestones toward that goal, more work remains, and perhaps always will.

Savannah Morning News on justice for Paula Deen:

Nevermind. Forget about it. We were mistaken. We didn't mean it.

That's essentially what attorneys in the federal lawsuit against Savannah celebrity cook Paula Deen implied last Friday afternoon, filing a proposed agreement to dismiss this nationally watched case with prejudice.

In layman's terms, it means this case lacked merit. It also prevents Deen's accuser — a white former employee who alleged her white employer practiced racial discrimination — from taking future action on the same ridiculous issue.

This agreement will permanently end litigation that has rocked Deen's culinary world since earlier this summer. That's when word leaked out, through the National Enquirer, that Deen admitted in a deposition to using the N-word 30 years ago.

Last week's filing was a huge relief for Deen. That's no surprise.

This case began with a threat against Deen. If she refused to pay Jackson $1.25 million, then the allegations against Deen would be made public.

It ended with a goose egg: Last week's filing included an agreement that would not award costs or fees to anyone.

Also Friday, the judge filed an order directing that Atlanta attorney Matthew Billips, Jackson's lead pit bull, explain his conduct and why he should not incur sanctions.

Billips was accused of promising to "symbolically undress and have sex with" the high-profile defendant his client was suing.

Such X-rated bravado degrades the legal profession. It erodes the public's respect for law and the courts.

Late Friday, Deen's attorneys withdrew their motion for sanctions. But let's hope the judge presses forward.

As for Paula Deen, where does she go to get her reputation back? It won't happen in a courtroom. Instead, such injustice can only be erased in the court of public opinion.

The nation's media pummeled Deen mercilessly over the summer, parroting the racism accusations without checking facts. Her corporate sponsors dumped her; it cost her millions.

Deen didn't sound bitter last Friday.

Instead, she took the high road, saying that she looks forward "to getting back to doing what I love."

So do a lot of people.




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