I see no alternative but that this text must be a personal interpretation of my own experience within the region known as "Dixie."
My participation in the movement began in February, 1960, with the lunch counter "sit-ins." I was then a student at Fisk University, but several months ago I interrupted my schoolwork for a year in order to work full time with the movement. My occupation at present is coordinating secretary for the Nashville Nonviolent Movement.
I should not with to infer that I speak for the southern movement, for I think that there is no single person who can do that. Although many of the following statements can be generalized for the entire movement in the South, I shall refer largely to Nashville, Tennessee, for that is where I have worked.
I submit, then, that the nonviolent movement in that city:
- is based upon and motivated by love;
- attempts to serve God and mankind;
- strives toward what we call the beloved community.
This is religion. This is applied religion. I think it has worked for me and I think it has worked for you and I think it is the work of our Church.
One fact occurs to me. This is that the problems of the world lie within men and women; yes, within you, me, and the people with whom we come in contact daily. Further, the problems lie not so much in our action as in our inaction. We have upon ourselves as individuals in a democracy the political, economic, sociological, and spiritual responsibilities of our country. I'm wondering now if we in the United States are really remembering that this must be a government "of the people" and "by the people" as well as "for the people." Are we really appreciating the fact that if you and I do not meet these responsibilities then our government cannot survive as a democracy?
The problems in Berlin, Cuba, or South Africa are, I think, identical with the problem in Jackson, Mississippi, or Nashville, Tennessee. I believe that when men come to believe in their own dignity and in the worth of their own freedom, and when they can acknowledge the God and the dignity that is within every man, then Berlin and Jackson will not be problems. After I had been arrested from a picket line about three weeks ago, I jotted down the following note, with this meeting In mind:
If the policeman had acknowledged the God within each of the students with whom I was arrested last night, would he have put us in jail? Or would he have gone into the store we were picketing and tried to persuade the manager to hire Negroes and to treat all people fairly? If one acknowledges the God within men, would anyone ask for a "cooling off period," or plead for gradualism, or would they realize that white and Negro Americans are committing sin every day that they hate each other and every day that they allow an evil system to exist without doing all they can to rectify it as soon as they can?
Segregation reaches into every aspect of life to oppress the Negro and to rob him of his dignity in the South. The very fact that he is forced to be separated obviously implies his inferiority. Therefore the phrase "separate but equal" denies itself. The things non-black Americans take for granted, such as a movie and dinner date for college students, or a coffee-break downtown, are usually denied the black American in the South. Sometimes he may obtain these services if he wishes to compromise his dignity. He might, for example, attend a downtown movie if he would enter through the alley entrance and climb to the balcony to be seated.
But these are not the most important things. The purpose of the movement and of the sit-ins and the Freedom Rides and any other such actions, as I see it, is to bring about a climate in which all men are respected as men, in which there is appreciation of the dignity of man and in which each individual is free to grow and produce to his fullest capacity. We of the movement often refer to this goal as the concept of the redeemed or the "beloved" community.
In September, 1959, I came to Nashville as a student at Fisk University. This was the first time that I had been as far south as Tennessee; therefore, it was the first time that I had encountered the blatant segregation that exists in the South. I came then to see the community in sin. Seeing signs designating "white" or "colored," being told, "We don't serve niggers in here," and, as happened in one restaurant, being looked in the eye and told, "Go around to the back door where you belong," had a tremendous psychological impact on me. To begin with, I didn't agree with the premise that I was inferior, and I had a difficult time complying with it. Also, I felt stifled and boxed in since so many areas of living were restricted. The Negro in the South is told constantly, "You can't sit here." "You can't work there." "You can't live here, or send your children to school there." "You can't use this park, or that swimming pool," and on and on and on. Restrictions extend into housing, schools, jobs (Negroes, who provide a built-in lower economic class, are employed in the most menial capacities and are paid the lowest wages). Segregation encompasses city parks, swimming pools and recreational facilities, lunch counters, restaurants, movies, drive-in movies, drive-in restaurants, restrooms, water fountains, bus terminals, train stations, hotels, motels, auditoriums (Negro college students usually attend the most important formal dances of the year in the school gymnasium), amusement parks, legitimate theatres, bowling alleys, skating rinks – all of these areas are segregated. Oppression extends to every area of life.
In the deeper South, Negroes are denied use of public libraries, they are denied entrance even to certain department stores, are discriminated against on city buses, in taxicabs, and in voting. Failure to comply with these oppressions results in beatings, in house-burnings and bombings, and economic reprisals, as we saw in Fayette County, Tennessee, and in Montgomery in the case of the Freedom Riders. Significant, however, are the many countless incidents that the public never even hears about.
As can easily be imagined, all this has a real effect upon the Negro. I won't attempt to analyze here the effect of the system upon the Negro, but I should like to make a few observations. An organism must make some type of adjustment to its environment The Negro, however, continues to deny consciously to himself, and to his children, that he is inferior. Yet each time he uses a "colored" facility, he testifies to his own inferiority. Many of the values that result from this dual selfconcept are amazing to note. Let me relate to you one very interesting incident.
I spent thirty days in the jail in Rock Hill, South Carolina. For the first few days the heat was intense in the cell. Breathing was difficult. Everyone was perspiring profusely. We couldn't understand why the women in the cell hesitated to ask that a window be opened or the heat be turned down. It turned out that it was because they were so often cold in their homes, and had come to value heat so highly, that they were willing to suffer from it if they could just have it.
A further example of these curious values is given by the Negro who has received several college degrees or who has a profession and who can consider himself a successful and important man, but who, at the same time, will still attest to his own inferiority by cooperating with segregation. What value, or lack of it, accounts for the fact that so many faculty members at Negro colleges have not disassociated themselves from universities which have expelled student demonstrators? Why are the faculty members and administrators of southern Negro colleges not on the picket lines and sitting at the lunch counters? I think the answer lies within the answer of what Jim Crow does to the Negro. For one thing, it stymies his ability to be free by placing emphasis on the less important things, but on things, nevertheless, which Negroes have been denied.
Segregation has its destructive effect upon the segregator also. The most outstanding of these effects perhaps is fear. I can't forget how openly this fear was displayed in Nashville on the very first day that students there sat-in. Here were Negro students, quiet, in good discipline, who were consciously attempting to show no ill will, even to the point of making sure that they had pleasant and calm facial expressions. The demonstrators did nothing more than sit on the stools at the lunch counter. Yet, from the reaction of the white employees of the variety stores and from the onlookers, some dreadful monster might just as well have been about to devour them all. Waitresses dropped things. Store managers and personnel perspired. Several cashiers were led off in tears. One of the best remembered incidents of that day took place in a ladies restroom of a department store. Two Negro students, who had sat-in at the lunch counter, went into the ladies restroom which was marked "white" and were there as a heavy-set, older white lady, who might have been seeking refuge from the scene taking place at the lunch counter, entered. Upon opening the door and finding the two Negro girls inside, the woman threw up her hands and, nearly in tears, exclaimed, "Oh! Nigras everywhere!"
So segregation engenders fear in the segregator, especially needless fear of what will happen if integration comes; in short, fear of the unknown. Then Jim Crow fosters ignorance. The white person is denied the educational opportunities of exchange with people of a race other than his own. Bias makes for the hatred which we've all seen stamped upon the faces of whites in newspaper pictures of the mob. The white hoodlum element is often provoked and egged on by the management or by onlookers; this is a type of degradation into which the segregator unfortunately slips.
Police departments can also sink to a sorry state. Bias lets the police turn their heads and not see the attacks made against demonstrators. In Nashville, police permissiveness has served to make the hoodlum element more and more bold, with incidents of real seriousness resulting, even a real tragedy, as was the case in the bombing of a Negro attorney's home last year during the sit-ins.
An unhappy result of segregation is that communications between the races become so limited as to be virtually nonexistent. The "good race relations" to which segregators in the South often refer, is nothing more than a complete breakdown in communication so that one race is not aware of any of the other race's objections or of interracial problems. This has been clearly exemplified in cities where race relations have been called "good" and where the masses of Negroes have rallied behind students in boycotts of downtown areas that have been, reportedly, up to 98 per cent effective among the Negro population.
By not allowing all its citizens to produce and contribute to the limit of their capacities, the entire city, or region, or country, will suffer, as can be seen in the South's slow progress in industrial, political, and other areas today and in the weakening of American influence abroad as a result of race hatred.
Segregation, moreover, fosters dishonesty between the races. It makes people lie to each other. It allows white merchants to accept the customers' money, but to give them unequal service, as at the Greyhound and Trailway Bus Lines, where all customers pay the same fares but some are not free to use all the facilities in the terminals and at restaurants where rest stops are made. Fares are equal, but service is not. The system forces the Negro maid to tell her employer that everything is all right and that she's satisfied, but when she is among her friends she talks about the injustice of the system.
Worst of all, however, is the stagnancy of thought and character – of both whites and Negroes – which is the result of the rationalization that is necessary in order that the oppressed and oppressor may live with a system of slavery and human abasement.
I can remember Nashville in this stage of sin when I first came there in September, 1959, a few months before the sit-in movement was to begin. As a new student at Fisk University that September, I was completely unaware that over the next few months I would really experience segregation; that I would see raw hatred; that I would see my friends beaten; that I would be a convict several times and, as is the case at the moment, that there would be a warrant out for my arrest in Jackson, Mississippi. Expecting my life to pursue a rather quiet course, I was also unaware that I would begin to feel part of a group of people suddenly proud to be called "black." To be called "Negro" had once been thought of as derogatory and had been softened by polite company to "colored person." At one time, to have been called "nigger" was a gross insult and hurt keenly. Within the movement, however, we came to a realization of our own worth. We began to see our role and our responsibility to our country and to our fellow men, so that to be called "nigger" on the picket line, or anywhere, was now an unimportant thing that no longer produced in us that flinch. As to the typical white southerner who compromises with "nigra" we only secretly wish for a moment when we could gracefully help him with his phonetics, explaining that it's "knee–grow."
The revolution in the Negro student's concept of the name of his own race is really important only as it is indicative of change in the Negro's concept of himself and of his race.
Through the unity and purposefulness of the experience of the Nashville Negro, there was born a new awareness of himself as an individual.
There was also born, on the part of whites, a new understanding and awareness of the Negro as a person to be considered and respected.
I think an outstanding example of this latter change was revealed by the negotiations which took place between Negro students and leaders and the white merchants who were the managers of downtown lunch counters. It became apparent to me during the negotiations that the white southerner was not in the habit of taking the Negro seriously. During the initial stages, the attitude of the merchants was one of sort of patting us on the head and saying, "Yes, we've listened to your story and maybe segregation is bad, but you can't have integration now, because it'll ruin our business." And they closed the matter there. However, after the sit-ins continued and after the moral weight of the community was felt, through our 98 per cent effective boycott; after a number of talks in which the merchants got to know us as people and saw our problem (and we saw theirs), there was indeed a beautiful type of awareness born, to the extent that one of the merchants, who incidentally was a white southerner, made what I think was a real concession: "Well, it was simply that we didn't see they were right and we were wrong."
I think we can also see this awareness of Negro and white for each other as individuals, in the attitudes of the crowds who watched the demonstrations. In the beginning, as I mentioned, there was mostly fear. However, after the violence was allowed to go on and after the police protection broke down and officers insisted on looking the other way while people were beaten, not infrequently there was a white person in the crowd who would see someone about to tear up one of the picket signs or about to hit someone, and would go up and stop this person and say, "No, no! You can't do that." And often they would get into a discussion which sometimes looked constructive. I hope it was.
There also has been a real change in the temper of the crowd, a change from fear to, I think, just curiosity and watching because something is going on. There is not the hatred and the serious fear and emotional tension that there once was. In Nashville, since the integration of the lunch counters and dining rooms and department stores, we've been fortunate enough to have movies also integrated. As I mentioned earlier, in the downtown area Negroes could not attend movies unless they entered through an alley entrance and sat in the balcony. However, after several weeks of standing-in, they are now allowed to use the theatres' facilities on a fully integrated basis.
Swimming pools in Nashville have been closed this summer under very strange circumstances. It seems that on one particular day a group of Negroes attempted to integrate the city's swimming pools, which incidentally, of course, are tax-supported. On the next day, the park commissioners closed all the swimming pools in the city, for financial reasons. Now it seems that the mayor did not know anything about the park commission being in serious financial difficulty, nor did any of the other city officials, and strangely enough the park commissioners could not be reached for comment. But I'm afraid our swimming pools are closed for financial reasons.
The H. G. Hill food stores are currently being picketed. This is our local project for the moment. This company hires Negroes only for warehouse work and as truck drivers and, of course, pays them below union standards. Many stores are in completely Negro neighborhoods and even in these stores we cannot have Negro cashiers or personnel.
I am eager to talk with you about the Freedom Rides because I think that they denote a new and important level of effort. And I feel that more such projects will be necessary for the ultimate success of the southern movement, especially in states of the deep South, such as Alabama and Mississippi. As you know, the idea of a Freedom Ride was conceived and the project was begun by the Congress of Racial Equality. The first trip originated in Washington, D. C., in May of this year (1961). From Washington, the group traveled through most of the southern states and was repeatedly beaten and jailed as the bus made its way across Dixie. As you remember, at Anniston and Birmingham, Alabama, the bus met with mob violence; the CORE members were beaten and the bus was burned. Most of the riders were hospitalized for a short time. Mr. James Peck, who was one of the whites along with the group, had fifty stitches taken in his head as a result of the repeated beatings that he had to take. Attempting to get a bus to their destination, which was Montgomery, the riders were told that no driver would take them further. In a state of exhaustion then, after traveling hundreds of miles under tremendous tension, repeated jailings and beatings, they took a plane to New Orleans, which was the last stop of the planned itinerary.
In Nashville, the students had been closely following the Freedom Bus as it moved from town to town, for the people on the bus somehow were ourselves. Their dream of freedom in travel was our dream also. Their aspirations were our own aspirations. There is a tremendous bond between people who really stand up or ride for what they feel is just and right. You see, the CORE members were riding and being beaten for our freedom, too. Therefore, it was quite simple. Mob violence must not stop men's striving toward right. Freedom Rides and other such actions must not be stopped until our nation is really free.
In Nashville then, we were faced with a grave situation. We called a meeting of the students and adults within the movement. Talking by phone with persons who had been at the scene of the tragedies in Birmingham and Anniston, we were told, "Don't come. It's a bloodbath. Be assured, someone will be killed if you do come." Upon hearing this, the Nashville group set about preparing themselves for the fact that someone of them would be killed when they took the trip.
You see, these people faced the probability of their own deaths before they ever left Nashville. Several made out wills. A few more gave me sealed letters to be mailed if they were killed. Some told me frankly that they were afraid, but they knew that this was something that they must do because freedom was worth it. I, incidentally, feel very blessed and very grateful for knowing such people and for being able to call most of them my friends.
The purpose of any nonviolent demonstration is to focus the attention of people on how evil segregation really is and then to change their hearts. Some people have been confused about the objectives of the Freedom Rides, and I've heard it said that "the point has been made," so there is no use in going on. The objective of the Freedom Ride from Birmingham was not just to point out that people cannot ride freely but to make it possible for all persons to ride and use terminal facilities without being discriminated against. Until that objective has been attained there is reason for going on.
So the drama continued. The bus left Nashville about 6:00 A.M. en route to Birmingham, Alabama. My own role was to stay at the telephone, to keep contact with Birmingham, to hear from the riders as often as they could call, to make arrangements ahead in Montgomery, to keep the Justice Department advised – in short, to coordinate.
The students were held on the bus for some time when they reached Birmingham, and subsequently were taken into "protective custody." The next morning at 4:25, I received a call from them. They said that they'd been driven by the police to the Alabama-Tennessee border and had been put out of the car there on the highway and told to cross the border. At the moment they were on the open highway and felt unsafe. They did not know where shelter was, but would call again as soon as possible. They had been fasting since they had been in jail the day before.
We Immediately sent an automobile to get them, and the next time we heard from them, they advised us that they were returning to Birmingham and were determined to board a bus for Montgomery. The police chief wasn't going to get off that easily.
The next night was an all-night vigil for them at the bus station. They were told, again, that no driver would drive the bus. Finally, next morning they were able to get a driver and the bus moved on to Montgomery, Alabama. We all read about that morning, I think, in Montgomery, Alabama. I wish I could have shared with you the moments in our office when that violence was taking place. It seemed that when the bus arrived and the mob attacked the students, they were immediately dispersed. People put a few of them in their cars and took them home. Within a very short time the group was scattered throughout the city.
We listed all the names of the persons who had left Nashville and began trying to account for them. We would ask the students as they called in, "When did you last see ...................?." The reports we got that morning were: John Lewis was bleeding profusely from the head; another student seemed unconscious; Jim Swirg had been cornered by about sixteen or seventeen men and was being beaten. They had lead pipes, knives, and guns. In a relatively short time, however, we were able to account for all of the students. Miraculously, no one was dead.
Shortly afterwards, in the job of coordinator, I went down to Montgomery to help with the work there. I think you probably read about the meeting which took place in the church in Montgomery that night, at which Martin Luther King, the Freedom Riders, and a number of other people were present. When the police would not afford the church protection, a car was burned. There were incidents of violence and a mob of thousands, I understand, gathered outside. People in the church that night didn't know how close they were to real tragedy. This was the night martial law was declared in Montgomery. That night everyone remained in the church throughout the night.
Now something very interesting took place in the church that night. I think it can almost be a generalization that the Negroes in Alabama and Mississippi and elsewhere in the deep South are terribly afraid until they get into the movement. In the dire danger in which we were that night, no one expressed anything except concern for freedom and the thought that someday we'll be free. We stayed there until dawn and everyone was naturally tired, but no one said so. There were about three thousand people there that night, representing all walks of life, from young children to the elder people in the community. I don't think I've ever seen a group of people band together as the crowd in the church did that night.
Finally at dawn, we were escorted home by the troops. The students boarded the bus for Jackson, along with a second bus that had come from Nashville carrying five ministers. The buses left for Jackson, Mississippi, and I think we pretty well know the story from there on. Immediately upon arrival, the people were jailed. Since then there have been roughly three hundred people jailed for doing nothing more than riding a bus.
It interests me that the Freedom Riders have been called "trouble makers,'' "seekers of violence," and "seekers of publicity." Few people have seen the point: here are people acting within their constitutional and moral rights; they have done nothing more than ride a bus or use a facility that anyone else would normally expect to use any day of the year, but they have been confined and imprisoned for it. And somehow the Attorney General and the President of the United States and the Justice Department of the United States can do nothing about such a gross injustice. As far as being seekers of violence and publicity, the students have, at all times, remained non-violent. Are not the committers of violence responsible for their own actions? To date, as I've said, there have been approximately three hundred people jailed as Freedom Riders. All were returned within the last two weeks for arraignment. There stood to be lost five hundred dollars for each person who did not return to Jackson. And out of 189 who were on bond, all except nine were returned. The riders had been convicted in the city court and are currently appealing on the county court level. Their appeal trials have been set at the rate of two per day between now and January. The first trial took place yesterday. The result of that trial is that Mr. Henry Thomas was convicted of breach of peace, sentenced to four months imprisonment, and his bond was set at two thousand dollars.
Now I think that this is a serious question for the American public to consider. Is this really the country in which we live? This is a serious moment, I think, for those who take democracy and freedom seriously. Remember now that these Freedom Riders are citizens of the United States who can be called on to go to war and who are receiving treatment of this type.
If so harsh a treatment is involved for an action as right as riding a bus, perhaps one a unimportant as riding a bus, can we not draw from that an inference of what life in the South for the Negro must really be like?
I think that it is most essential that the government move at a rate of progress adequate to meet the needs of the governed. Not being able to do so has resulted in the tragedies of Little Rock, New Orleans, and Montgomery. It might be interesting to note that we have not had incidents such as New Orleans and Montgomery where there has been adequate government. There always needs to be a Faubus or a Patterson.
The Negro must be represented by those who govern. Without this representation, there is a moral slavery, if not physical. No person or country can have a clear conscience and a noble mien with such a sin on its conscience. I'm interested now in the people who call for gradualism. The answer, it seems to me, is to stop sinning and stop now! How long must we wait? It's been a century. How gradual can you get? Montgomery has shown how far it has advanced on its own; we've seen this from the mob to the governor. As for the legal position about the right to serve whom one pleases, I would say that this position does not alter the fact that segregation is wrong. Segregation on the bus lines, trains and planes is wrong intrastate as well as interstate. The press has made much of the interstate passage. However, the Freedom Riders are just as concerned with intrastate travel, because we're concerned with the injustice of segregation.
The Negro is seeking to take advantage of the opportunities that society offers; the same opportunities that others take for granted, such as a cup of coffee at Woolworth's, a good job, an evening at the movies, and dignity. Persons favoring segregation often refer to the right of man, but they never mention the rights of Negro men.
I would like to say also that the students and the adults who have taken part in this movement and who are doing so now are dead serious. We're ready to give our lives. It is a slight miracle, I think, that in the almost two years since February of 1960 there has not been a fatality. But we have come amazingly close to it several times. Let me mention the case of William Barbee who was on the Freedom Ride when it arrived at Montgomery and met with mob violence. Barbee had gone on a few hours ahead to arrange for cards and other necessities before the riders arrived. When they did get there and were attacked, he was busy trying to get them into taxi cabs or ambulances and take them where they could receive medical attention. Just as about all of them had gotten into cabs, the mob attacked him.
At that moment a Negro man was passing by. He was on his way to pay a bill. It was just a regular day in his life until he saw one of the mobsters with his foot upon William Barbee's neck. Mr. Nichols, who had lived in the South all his life, said that he started to go ahead about his business. But, he said, he know that we would never be able to live with his conscience again if that man killed Barbee. So he turned around and pulled the man off. Well, Mr. Nichols landed in the hospital next to Barbee. But even after he had pulled the man off, the crowd went back to William Barbee, and he was again in danger of death when the head of the highway patrol came along and was able to get the mob off with a gun. This student, William Barbee, is back in the movement, has been beaten up on a picket line and jailed again. I think that this is indicative of some of the determination and the seriousness with which we take the cause.
I think that quite often today you can hear the strains of a very old spiritual that's sung quite seriously. Some of the words are: "Before I be a slave I would be buried in my grave and go home to My Lord and be free."
From those who say they approve the ends, not the means, I would be interested in suggestions for a means which would yield freedom without delay. Let us look at the means. The students have chosen non-violence as a technique; there is no reason why they couldn't have taken up guns. It was a responsible choice, I think. We have decided that if there is to be suffering in this revolution (which is really what the movement is—a revolution), we will take the suffering upon ourselves and never inflict it upon our fellow man, because we respect him and recognize the God within him.
Let us see now what the movement needs. The movement is very much in need of a major federal decision that will result in enforcement of the Constitution and federal law. (You might be interested to know that during the Freedom Rides Governor Ross Barnett of Mississippi informed me of two very interesting things by telephone: He said  that he did not feel that Supreme Court decisions applied to his state, and  that he intended to enforce Mississippi law over and above any federal law that conflicted with it.) Along with a major federal decision to follow through on civil rights, there is needed a major decision on the part of the people. There is needed a realization that the problem lies as much in Jackson or Nashville as it does in Berlin or anywhere in the world. The problem, I think, centers around the questions of truth, honesty, justice, and democracy. What is needed is concern for human rights—not just white human rights. Until such time as this realization comes, Freedom Rides and similar such southwide projects are necessary. Count on more of them.
As far as the Catholic student and the Catholic Church are concerned, from our pulpits we need directness and we need emphasis. If this is not an area in which the Church must work, what is? It seems that our role must necessarily be leadership. And anything but outspoken and direct leadership in this movement is immoral. Newman Clubs and campus organizations in the South can certainly revitalize themselves by contacting local movements or starting one, pledging their support and participation. And the same is true for the problems which exist in the North.
There are roles for all of us to play. First, of course, is the role of the participants, who really pickets or sits in. Then there is the role of the observer. I don't know if you have heard, but a number of white are being utilized effectively as observers. In the integration of lunch counters and movie theaters, many of the older church women who have been sympathetic with the cause for a long time, but who haven't had an opportunity to speak out, have helped by doing such things as sitting next to Negroes at the lunch counters or at movies and thus creating an appearance of normalcy. These people have become quite enthusiastic about their new role. There have been several cases of—well, real "bigness." One lady is known to have drunk countless cups of coffee and gained ten pounds in sitting at lunch counters all day for several days in a row and looking normal. Several have been known to see the same picture over and over again. Also looking normal. For those in the North, as I mentioned, there are local problems, and we also need groups that we can call upon to support the southern movement.
Finally, this movement has been called one of passive resistance. But it is not that at all. Rather it might be called one of active insistence. In regard to our own roles and the role of our Church, I think we need to understand that this is a question of real love of man and love of God. Is there such a thing as moderate love of God or moderate disdain for sin? I think we need radical good to combat radical evil. Consider the South. It can be the answer for the free world; it can be the pivot. The problem there is a vital challenge for truth; for respect for man. In a word, it is a question of dignity.