WASHINGTON—In a tribute to a brave Civil Rights pioneer who helped the nation cross a momentous threshold, the Smithsonian Institution dedicated a new exhibit Friday to the first African American to use a whites-only glory hole. “I remember being scared, of course, with all those angry white people jeering at me as the federal troops escorted me into that bathroom stall, but I knew it was my responsibility to help make a change,” said 88-year-old Lawrence Sawchuck, recalling his work with both the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the NAACP to desegregate glory holes after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial discrimination in public facilities. “Everyone knew at the time that the white glory holes received more resources and were serviced more often, and we were tired of only using holes that were marked ‘colored.’ I remember we spent a lot of time practicing for the moment in church basements. The first few times we tried, the fire department showed up and shot the fire hose through the hole at us.” Asked what surprised him most about his experience using the whites-only facility, Sawchuck remarked that he had been impressed with the generous supply of tape provided to cushion the glory hole’s jagged edges.
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