I recall riding on a bus to Raleigh with others for our physical exam–we were a number of white Duke students and many Durham residents of color. My mood on the trip to the physical was one of anxiety but basic trust–the system would be fair, of course, as it had always been for me. Being herded, often naked, through the exam process was overwhelming, but the experience also began to shape my thinking and feeling in a new direction: "What’s happening here?"
On our bus trip back to Durham, I was in a state of disbelief and struggling to test reality. How could it be that the white Duke student in front of me–healthy enough to play football on scholarship and balancing a stack of private clinic records on his knee–was not physically fit enough to be drafted and serve? How could it be that the black "townie" sitting behind me, who looked like he’d never seen a private physician in his life, was deemed in great shape and physically fit to serve if his number was called? The echoing question was much louder and more persistent now: "What’s going on here?"
For me, my trip to Raleigh for our physicals began a much deeper and life-changing journey of political awareness and spiritual formation. I remain grateful to the students and faculty at Duke, and the residents of Durham where I worshipped and did community service, for our life and work together in the late sixties during those times of great change.