Cardwell, Woodruff, and Wild Tell Stories of the Past, Express Hopes for Beloved Community of the Future

The two African American students who desegregated E.C. Glass High School in January of 1962 and the white woman who wrote a book about their experiences presented a panel discussion at the Legacy Museum’s new Activity Center on Saturday, October 12.

About fifty people heard the views of Dr. Lynda Woodruff, the Rev. Dr. Owen C. Cardwell, Jr., and Patricia Wild on “Working Toward the Beloved Community.” The presentation climaxed a three-day visit to Lynchburg that included an appearance at an all-school assembly at E.C. Glass on October 10 and a reading at the First Unitarian Church on October 11.

Woodruff and Cardwell were ninth-graders when they entered Glass; Wild was a second-semester senior. Her encounter with Cardwell in the school cafeteria was the germ of her book Way Opens: A Spiritual Journey, published by Warwick House and available at Givens Books. Based on extensive interviews with Woodruff and Cardwell, Way Opens is not only a narrative about the experiences of the two African Americans, with whom Wild has become friends, but also an exploration of Wild’s own White privilege.

Woodruff is a retired professor of physical therapy in the University System of Georgia and continues to teach physical therapy to graduate students and to the indigenous population in Brazil. Cardwell is a pastor and activist in Richmond, where his ministry focuses on incarcerated men and their families. Wild lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she writes a weekly newspaper column and participates in a prison ministry sponsored by her Quaker meeting.

Each of the three presented a different perspective on their past and current experiences, but, as Rev. Cardwell observed at the end of the program, the interweaving of their perspectives-each strand distinct but part of one whole-represents the “beloved community” referred to by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as the goal of the civil rights movement.

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