Meher Baba copyright 1987 Charlie Mills

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40151956 TRIP TO THE WEST1956

A few months before Baba arrived in America in 1956, the United States Supreme Court held the segregation laws invalid. Legislation protecting the Negroes' right to vote was also passed and, in general, the struggle for African-American rights began gathering force. Baba seemed keenly interested in the subject. Darwin described to him how Blacks were showing a new militancy in their battle for civil rights and social justice. The year before, they had begun boycotting public buses, because the bus lines were segregated.

The plane stopped briefly at Richmond, Virginia, and landed in Wilmington, North Carolina, at approximately 10:35 A.M., where the rest of the group had already arrived by another flight. Just before getting off the plane, Baba motioned to Darwin and said, "As soon as we land, take me to the men's room." Otto Troegel (of Florida) and several others met them when they landed. While leaving the plane Darwin was too far behind Baba, so he called down to Otto and asked him to lead Baba to the men's room, which he did. These were the days of segregated facilities in the South, and Otto went to the one with a sign which read WHITE. Baba went in but soon came out, saw the bathroom labeled COLORED, and went in there to urinate.

Baba, Elizabeth and a two of the mandali left Wilmington in a station wagon driven by Elizabeth's sister's son, Harry Hartshorne, a farmer from Wisconsin who had met Baba in 1952. When Harry was introduced to Baba again, Baba remarked, "I am a farmer, too. I till the universe."

Margaret and Darwin rode in a car with the other two mandali. Ben Hayman and Harry Kenmore got a ride with a man who, on learning Baba was a Spiritual Master, offered to drive them to Myrtle Beach. Laura Delavigne and her husband, Lee, drove their car, and the rest of the group went by bus for the hour-and-a-half-long ride.

Arriving in Myrtle Beach, Baba's car entered the Meher Center from the Briarcliffe Acres entrance. At the gate to greet him were Kitty, and Frank Eaton, and from Florida had come others including Leland and Hilda De Long with their daughter Sylvia, and also Ruth Troegel. Baba raised his right hand in greeting. He beckoned Kitty into the car, and was driven to his house overlooking Long Lake, followed by the other car with the mandali. The other cars and bus, following behind, continued down the highway and entered at the main gate to the property.

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