This year StoryCorps launched a new project called One Small Step, an effort to bring together Americans with differing political views not to argue about issues, but to get to know one another as human beings.
Those conversations have been happening in Alabama too.
Gail Ingram and Daron Harris met through their work with the Selma Center for Nonviolence on a project called Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation. Gail identifies as a conservative while Daron identifies as a liberal. Here is their conversation:
GAIL INGRAM (GI): My parents were hardworking people. Not really, really, really educated. They, neither one of them finished high school. They lived on the farm up in North Alabama, and we moved to Selma when I was five. And I learned from my parents to love other people, to believe in God, and to work hard, and I appreciate them very much.
DARON HARRIS (DH): It’s similar in some capacity to how I feel about my parents, and you know, while we might not have been able to buy the newest model car every year or have the nicest house in the neighborhood, everything that we did have we were taught to take great responsibility with, to take great care of, to keep in perfect operating condition, and to make sure that it was the best it could be and was something to be proud of even though it might not, you know, be as expensive as somebody else’s.
DH: This is the first opportunity where you and I have really gotten to sit down and compare notes on our lives and our backstory because every time we’re together, we’re generally trying to push Selma forward and trying to get the momentum going.
GI: See how we can make it better.
DH: Yeah, how can we fix things.
DH: And how can we get this community to come together across the table. So often the story of Selma is sort of imposed on Selma from outside sources. And likewise for the entire Black Belt, it’s a part of the state that’s really facing a lot of challenges and always has. So for an opportunity for those who are living and working in Selma every day, and can get their story out, is a pretty cool thing.
GI: There are a lot of people here at the Selma Center that I don’t agree with politically. I don’t have a lot of their views. They don’t have my views. But we respect each other, we’ve talked about it, and it’s okay. I remember when I first interviewed with Callie [who also works with the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation process] over a pot of coffee to be on the design team, she started downing President Trump and I said, “Wait a minute. I voted for President Trump.” She said, “Okay.” And I said, “Okay.” So… [laughs]
GI: And we’ve been great friends ever since, I mean, just…
DH: So you made each other aware of a boundary or of a difference, and you–
DH: You respectfully agreed to disagree.
DH: And then you move forward with your relationship.
GI: In what we share in common.
GI: Which is caring for people.
DH: When I found out later in the process that you were Republican leaning, I was pleasantly surprised by that. And I was like, wow, you know, this work that we’re doing in truth, racial healing, and transformation we’ve got so many people from all across the political and various ethnic and age, socioeconomic groups coming together. But at the end of the day, what’s bringing people together is that they all agree that they’re trying to do something better for their community.
GI: It’s just part of leaning on one another and making a beautiful bouquet at the end of the day.
GI: I brought this bouquet of flowers and this morning when I was picking these flowers, it just speaks to me about and hope and death and transparencies and how we lean on each other.
DH: I like how you mixed up. There’s some kind of drying out and flowers that are, you know, they’ve crossed the…
GI: They’re fading.
DH: They’re fading. But then you’ve got the vibrance mixed in there with it, but together, the ensemble is a whole.
GI: That’s right. None of us are going to stand on our own. We, we need to work together and be together and depend on each other. And it makes for a beautiful bouquet.