Racial harmony alive, well at Habitat

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 20, 2009

Each time one reads about racial unrest in Natchez, you might wonder how much real progress has made in the last 50 years. Racial differences are most apparent in our political system as evidenced by votes by our elected officials and by the populous within each section of the city and county. There continues to a perception (real or otherwise) of discrimination in personnel practices, lending and housing.

But last Saturday, Nov. 14, at the funeral of Mr. Stanford “Buddy” Rayne, one could see how much progress has been made.

Mr. Rayne, who is white, was one of the original founders of Habitat for Humanity in Natchez and was an active board member and volunteer construction worker for 18 years. He was the only volunteer to work on all 13 Habitat homes. About 25 percent of the non-family members attending his funeral were black, including the families of four existing Habitat owners, volunteer construction workers and board members.

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Mr. Andrew Calvit, president of Habitat for Humanity, was a pallbearer and spoke at the funeral service. He cited the many contributions by Mr. Rayne and the Habitat organization. The 13 houses built to date cost more than $500,000 and house 13 families with 55 members; these families buy fire insurance from local agencies and pay real estate property taxes (over $4,000 in 2008).

Mr. Rayne’s family asked that the work he started at Habitat continue.

After reading about the impact that Habitat has made on the lives of so many, we can assure the family that the Habitat board and volunteers will continue to build. Mr. Buddy often said the reason the volunteers got along so well was because we never talked about politics, religion or race. We agree with him about religion and politics, but maybe its time we all learned more about racial harmony.

Duncan McFarlane, Habitat secretary on behalf of the Natchez-Adams County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors