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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Extraordinary Courage in the Civil Rights Fight

May 09, 2003

In Birmingham, Ala., a reunion honored the extraordinary people who put their lives on the front lines of the civil rights movement ("The Foot Soldiers of Justice," May 2). I don't believe people today can imagine the strength and resolve necessary to stand up to the evils perpetrated upon black citizens -- the police, the vicious dogs and the angry mobs were just the tip of the terror heaped on those asking only for the rights guaranteed by our founding fathers.

It was the extraordinary people who made the moment, not the reverse. Would you be able to accept the blows without retaliating? Would you put your child in harm's way to ensure a better life for all children? Because of many blacks in Birmingham during that very violent time in the South, America came closer to those values we speak and write so eloquently about, but don't yet practice. Today, all citizens, not just blacks, need to again become the extraordinary people fighting for a free and open society.

Leroy Carter

Los Angeles

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