Tuesday, February 7, 2006

LITHONIA, Ga. — Bridgemon Bolger and his friend Andre Vinson had to do some fancy footwork to get into the memorial service yesterday for Coretta Scott King.

The two black college students hoped to make the five-minute walk from their nearby neighborhood to the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. It ended up taking them two hours.

With four presidents in attendance, security was tight. The first DeKalb County police office they met — who was white, they said — told them the event was not open to the public. But it was, and they knew it.

So they climbed some fences, ducked into the woods and jumped a creek — Mr. Bolger dunked one of his brand-new sneakers into the water — only to meet Secret Service agents in a black van. But they talked their way past President Bush’s security detail and made it into the church for the powerful service.

“Coretta Scott King carried on her husband’s legacy,” Mr. Bolger said. “Now she’s home with him. But there’s still a long way to go. There are still people with the baggage of prejudice. It’s everywhere. Black folks are just as racist as white folks.

“And it’s got to stop. Maybe our children’s children, our grandchildren, will benefit from what Coretta Scott King did.”

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