The Meridian Lesson
by Robert Winter
highway highwayhighway
Slow-Moving Developments Behind the Fast-Breaking News

Education comes in the strangest places.  I wasn't expecting it in Meridian, Mississippi.  It was just a lunch stop on a trip someplace else.

Between the name that Meridian had acquired during the Civil Rights movement and a friend's childhood stories, I was prepared for a pretty bleak, hard-bitten, mean-spirited town.

Instead, as I pulled off the interstate, what I encountered was a typically gleaming example of contemporary roadside America.  The coffee shop where I ate was spotless, and from its broad plate glass windows I watched a procession of well-tended vehicles pass by.  I was particularly taken by a customized truck that had been adapted for some sort of ultra high-tech gear--satellite communications, or something on that order.

The waitress at the counter was young, black, pretty, efficient, and subtly but unmistakably not about to take any stuff off anybody.

In the men's room I found the following graffiti:


Was this really Meridian, Mississippi?