I never really knew Sam, but I met him briefly several times. Even in those brief times, he left me with the impression of a quiet, gentle man. I knew that he was much respected in the Bucks County area, but it wasn’t until I read his obituary and other articles that I realized what a truly great man he was. What impressed me most was when in 1957 he represented the first black family moving into Levittown and even stood on their lawn and held off a mob for 45 minutes. What a brave, brave man!!
Reading about Sam’s heroic act reminded me of a trip my family took to Dallas, Texas shortly before Rosa Parks’ act of defiance in 1955. I don’t remember where we were going, but my father insisted that we ride the bus. He wanted to give us an illustration of the discrimination still prevalent in the South. He pointed out to us that the black people had to ride in the back of the bus and that as the bus proceeded gathering more passengers, the sign on the bus separating the black and white people was moved further and further back so that the white people would always have seats. I can still remember sitting in my seat on the bus and watching the sign move. Why didn’t I get up and offer my seat to a needy old person or tired lady?
My excuse is that I was then a little girl just beginning to learn about the injustices of the world. But I have no excuse now. My hope is that when I am faced with a similar unjust situation, I will have the courage to stand up like Sam. What an inspiring man he was! What a challenge for all of us!
Carol Sundeen, Lower Makefield