Greensboro Couple Inspires 5th Graders To Right 60 Year Wrong

by jhang

Sixty years later a Greensboro couple gets to properly celebrate their honeymoon thanks to 5th graders.

GREENSBORO, N.C.– Fifth graders are proving that you are never too young to make a wrong right.

Sixty years after tying the knot, a Greensboro couple finally went on their honeymoon, thanks to the fifth graders. They originally were turned away, because of the color of their skin.

To understand who Rev. Gil and Grace Caldwell are, we have to take you back to the 40s and ’50s in Greensboro during a time of racial segregation.

“I grew up of course in the public schools there in Greensboro and it was interesting to me to see how slowly the changes came that were taking place all over the country,” Grace said.

Grace and Gil’s paths crossed at college. She attended Bennett College. He went to North Carolina A&T.

“These two colleges were the foundation for their love and of course setting the pace and the legacy for our family,” Laresa Thompson, the couple’s niece explained.

The couple fell in love and married November 30th, 1957. They then drove 8 hours to Mount. Airy Lodge in the Poconos in Pennsylvania–where they were turned away.

“And simply saying they don’t receive people of color and most cutting saying our guests would be very unhappy if we let you stay here,” Gil said.

Driven partly by that experience, Gil became involved in the civil rights movement marching all across the country alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and fellow Aggie, Rev. Jesse Jackson.


Gil Calwell marches alongside Martin Luther King Jr.

Now retired and living in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Gil and Grace talk to young students about their first hand accounts of the civil rights movement.

In nearby Titusville, 5th grade students at Bear Tavern Elementary got a chance to hear their story.

“It was really heartbreaking,” and “I feel that this is the worst thing that someone could do to someone.” are just a few things the students said when they spoke with CBS News.

That’s when they took action.

Each student wrote a letter to Mount Airy Casino and Resort, a new business at the same spot.

They asked for a complimentary stay for the couple writing things like, “They made me think about not only standing up for myself but standing up for others and fixing mistakes.”

But inexplicably, only one letter made it to the desk of Matthew Magda, VP of Operations.

And one letter was all it took.

“If this kid is willing to do the right thing I’m willing to do the right thing,” Magda said.

Matthew wrote the student back, saying he’d love to host that Caldwells.

Gil and Grace were invited back to Bear Tavern where the kids revealed what they had done.

“Of course it was a great surprise for us that they turned out things the way they did.They seemed to be excited about what they were doing and as a former teacher I was enthralled.” Grace said.

“It was just a very moving moment and I hope it’s a teaching learning moment for all of humanity in terms of young people fifth graders doing what we as adults cannot do sometimes, Gil said.

So in December, the Caldwells finally got to enjoy their honeymoon, more than six decades later.

“Part of the joy of being human is ups and downs, and that’s been a part of our experience. But here we are 60 plus years after that, still together, looking forward to the future, Gil said.

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