By Ed Chasteen
Bill nails it! He understands perfectly why we are here. He comes to the mike. “Often when these things happen, victims stand alone. They feel helpless and forgotten. Our presence here today in support of this family rescues them and sends a clear message that this community won’t tolerate what was done to them.” Bill Whitcomb is with the United States Department of Justice. Has been for years. In his official capacity he visits communities where hate crimes have occurred, and by his presence aligns our government with those who foster peace, harmony and justice.
With many others of us from across Greater Kansas City, Bill has come at HIGH NOON on this sunny Saturday to Missouri City, where 11 days earlier at the midnight hour someone beat on the door of an interracial family, yelled racial insults and threatened to kill them. Fifty of us have come on our bicycles from our home bike shop in Liberty. Ministers from area churches are here. Members of the Missouri City Council are here. We are meeting at the Missouri City School, The Smallest AAA School in Missouri. The Superintendent of the school welcomes us and reads from the Love Letters that have come from around the world to the family. The chaplain, other staff and former students from William Jewell College are here. Concerned citizens from far and near are here. The pastor of Antioch Community Church, one of our HateBusters supporters, is here.
Missouri City is a tiny town of 295 people. The school has 24 students in eight grades. The three teachers each teach three grades. The kindergarten through second grade teacher is here with five of her seven students and her own small daughter. The teacher went to college with the wife of the victimized family, who is herself a teacher in Kansas City. The pastor of the Baptist Church next door is here and makes a powerful statement in support of the family.
The family is here: husband, wife, grandmother and two small children. The husband and wife rise to address all of us assembled. They express gratitude for our presence and sympathy for the one who assaulted them. They do not hate him, but express sorrow that he is filled with hate.
When everyone who would like to speak has done so, Brother John comes, as he always does at one of our events, to lead us in our HateBusters theme song. Written by two William Jewell students in 1988 when HateBusters was founded as a student response to the election of a Klansman to the Louisiana Legislature, this song repetitively asks those hurt by hate to call HATEBUSTERS and ends with our phone number. HateBusters has promised to respond to any act of hate reported on Kansas City TV or in the Kansas City Star and never to let hate have the final word. More PR for the good guys than the bad guys get: that’s our goal. That’s why we have come to Missouri City today.
HateBusters, Inc. has no meetings and no dues. We never say no when asked to help and never charge fees. We give membership cards to all who ask. We are supported by donations from those who value what we do. We keep in touch by email. When we are needed, I send out email alerts from my study next to the laundry room in the basement of my home. Word goes instantly across the country and around the world. My request for LOVE LETTERS for the family went out within minutes after I read of this hate crime in the Kansas City Star. They began arriving the next day and will continue for sometime. Bev Chapman from Channel 9 drove to the Missouri City School this past Wednesday and filmed a heartwarming story about the LOVE LETTERS that ran that evening.
At all of our Human Family Reunions, our visits to schools to teach our book, How To Like People Who Are Not Like You, our HIGH NOON SHOWDOWNS WITH MIDNIGHT HATE, and our visits to churches, Mom always comes as we near the end to sing her signature song: Pass It On. I call her Mom because that’s what my students call her. In her church, they call her Queen Mother. Her official name is Maxine McFarlane. By any name she is a force of nature. She comes now to weave her magic and spread her charm, sending us home from this place on a natural high from which we’ll not soon come down.