Military was first taste of segregation



February 3, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Spencer Ambler spoke to a large group at the New Community Building Friday about Black History Month during See, Hear Iola.
“We’re still having problems with talking about race relations,” Ambler said.
Ambler explained that many people have trouble talking about the past and current issues with race. Many people have to put a “handle,” like a black woman or a white man, when they’re describing a person.
Ambler said Black History Month is similar to Christmas. It comes one time a year and then we forget about it.
“It’s more than Martin Luther King and more than any individual,” he said. “We’ll see a lot about it this month but we won’t talk about it again until next year.”
Growing up, Ambler was the only black male in his high school class.
“I had lived a sheltered life in Chanute,” he said. “I didn’t know what discrimination was until I was in the military.”
While in the military he had to travel to Virigina. This is when he experienced segregation. He had to ride at the back of the train and was treated differently.
“There were white people who didn’t even know they were wrong and I didn’t understand their way of life in the South,” he said.
He explained that once people started having conversations, things could be different.
“If we have conversations with each other things can change,” he said.

JAN KNEWSTON was the commercial speaker at the event. She has owned Sophisticated Rose since 1982. Knewston started her business in Yates Center and took over a bridal store. Through the years she moved her store to Iola and in different locations around the square.
“In 2008 we started a children’s store,” she said. “We found our niche.”
They later added ladies apparel and this summer they will be adding shoes.

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