I noticed in the paper that the Rev. Dr. B. J. Hunter, of Hitchcock, had passed away.
I wondered if he would mind if I shared a story about the Hunter and Haak families. I think it’s something remarkable, at that time, to be proud of, so I decided to write about it.
Back in April 1968, after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, our country was in a terrible state. There were riots and murders all over the country. Everyone was afraid. Our daughters were 6, 4 and 2 at the time.
Hunter’s church, Galilee Baptist Church in Hitchcock, hosted a peace service for all the surrounding cities where they invited all the churches in the area to come. We were afraid to go with our small children, so we chose not to go.
I began to feel bad about not going, so I called Hunter and invited him and his family to have supper at our home in Alta Loma (Santa Fe now). He replied this was highly uncommon. I assured him he was welcome as we were very sympathetic to the civil rights movement.
So, the Hunters came to the Haak home. Never in my family’s history had blacks been invited into our homes, much less to sit down and have supper together. The older generation in my family didn’t approve of our doing this, so you can imagine some of their comments to us. However, we knew it was the right thing to do.
We had a very nice time. The Hunters had about three or four children at the time. One of the things I noticed was that our children had a great time. They got along like old lost friends. They didn’t even notice color.
Then, the Hunters reciprocated and invited us to their home. It wasn’t often that whites came to their neighborhood either. The Hunters had a very nice home compared to our starter home.
So, the next step, we invited them to attend Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, our parish, and they sat up front with us. We next attended services with them at their church. It was a real experience for us as having never been in a black church before — especially with our children. Their eyes were big as saucers at the talking and beautiful singing.
Forty years later in 2008, Hunter wrote a book “No Lamb, No Sheep.” We invited him and his family to our winery for a book signing. Nobody even blinked an eye at him coming to Santa Fe. Thank God things have changed for the better.
We talked about that time, and he remarked how that took a lot of courage on both of our parts in 1968 from both of our families.
If back then, I’d have had a black grandson, like I do now, they would have run us out of town or burned us out.
Thank you, Rev. B. J. Hunter and family, for your courage and determination to make the world a better place. May your soul rest in peace.