What does it mean when a local Boy Scout has more of a sense of justice and decency than the federal government?
Unfortunately, this is the case in Folsom, Calif., where 36 African Americans are buried under headstones that read:
"Moved from N*gger Hill Cemetery by U.S. Government - 1954."
This wouldn't seem like anything noteworthy except that with each pouring of the headstone, government officials had "Negro" changed to "N*gger." And so it was for more than half a century until an unnamed Boy Scout from Troop 645 decided to challenge the racial epithets on his own.
The courageous scout reportedly went to the trouble of getting funding to change the headstones, but since the cemetery is a historic landmark, officials are now trying to ascertain who has the legal authority to alter them.
This Boy Scout needs to be named and congratulated for having the audacity to question an insult that many were far too comfortable with.
The fact that someone under the government of Dwight D. Eisenhower specifically ordered the slur suggests a calculated, lasting attempt to not only dishonor and discredit the positive contributions of these black men to society but also disgrace and insult an entire race of people, who after hundreds of years of building this country under brutal and dehumanizing conditions, actually deserve to be heralded and honored throughout this land and world.
In addition, those 36 men need to have their stories told.
I don't know if all of the markers say, "Unknown," but someone needs to make an effort to know them: Who were they? Where did they come from? What was African-American life like at the time? This information should be prominently displayed for all to see and the city of Sacramento should go to great pains to make it a must-see site for school children everywhere to visit.
Until these changes are made, the state of California should be shamed by media that such a stain of history is allowed to endure.
Watch the story about the blasphemous headstones here: