On the frontline 

click to enlarge The Rev. Milton Proby has led St. Johns Baptist Church in southeast Colorado Springs for 45 years.
  • The Rev. Milton Proby has led St. Johns Baptist Church in southeast Colorado Springs for 45 years.

The Rev. Milton Proby, minister at St. John's Baptist church, attests to the differences between Colorado and the South. In his more than 70 years, he has lived through the gamut of American racism.

Born in DeKalb, Texas, in 1929, the hospital named Proby "Boy 1," he said. "At that time, doctors did not record the birth of black children in the county. I was 'Boy 1.'"

He remembers the discrimination he faced as a black child going to school in Texas. "I had a 3-mile walk to school while white kids got on the bus."

Proby has led St. John's Baptist in southeast Colorado Springs for more than 45 years, all the while an active voice in the community and a strong supporter of civil rights.

In the 1950s, Proby served as a soldier in the Korean War, which left a marked impression on him and emphasized the hypocrisy of American segregation.

"When we were on the frontline everybody was an American, but when I got back to Washington I was immediately given to know that I needed to get back in line," he said. "I was called boy, less than a man, but I am being shot at in Korea!"

Proby maintains that the influence of military service had a profound effect on the civil rights movement. "Americans noticed the rest of the world and they also noticed America." Just as importantly, he noted, the rest of the world noticed America.

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