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Ivan Goodwin

Ivan Goodwin would have been a junior at C.A. Johnson that spring, a young man who played basketball or touch football after school with his friends.

On that evening, April 4, a game was breaking up and six or eight guys were about to head for home when a car came drove past.

"I can remember a group of boys, white boys, riding through on Waverly Street, on the corner of Waverly and Chestnut, and yelling out: ‘Yay, Yea, he’s dead,’" said Goodwin, 56, who works for R.L. Bryan publishing.

"How glad they were that he was dead."

Looking back now, the irony of what happened next does not escape Goodwin, an ordained Baptist preacher. "We picked up rocks or bottles or whatever we could find, and we threw them," he said, "and we yelled back."

As he recalls, the boys talked briefly among themselves about what had just happened. They felt bewildered and angry. "We talked about — ‘they hate us,’" he said. "We talked about the hatred."

Goodwin admits he feels concerned about the future facing his children and grandchildren, because they don’t seem touched by the history he lived. At the same time, Barack Obama’s candidacy gives him reason to hope because so many people seem inspired by his ideas and charisma.

"Is America a better place because Martin Luther King fought the good fight? Yeah, it is. I’m awful proud," Goodwin said. "I’ve grown from throwing rocks. I learned how to turn the other cheek in some situations. But I also learned that even Jesus had a temper."

That evening, a teenager named Ivan Goodwin knew for sure some things are worth fighting for.

— Dawn Hinshaw