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My first experience of a wall that specifically designed to divide neighboring people goes back to 1968.  The wall in this case was put up to divide at their respective city limits the generally white population of Maitland, Florida with the historically African-American population of Eatonville, Florida.  Since Eatonville was incorporated by ex-slaves in 1887 (as a way of confining their newly franchised votes to only their homes), Eatonville has been known as “the oldest black town in America.”

The purpose of the stone  wall about six feet high was to set up at the close residential city limits the boundaries where the neighbors of Eatonville and Maitland stayed within their own populations.  It was not any kind of congenial or handy wall.  In fact, just by its prominent presentation, the wall engendered fear and loathing on both sides for many-many years.

At the time, the Maitland wall was built supposedly to do the opposite of creating fear.  In fact, it was built to create feelings of security,

This was in an era where the habits of racial segregation were lingering into the last year of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency.  A flamboyant but controversial Republican named Claude Kirk was then governor of Florida, while I at age 19 had been sent to there by the federal government under its Vista Volunteer program to give out the message of a number of civil rights programs that impacted the people in Eatonville.

Eventually as gradual racial integration gave an economic boom to the South in general and Florida in particular, the Maitland Wall became only a nuisance for both sides.  But like all walls, this wall was more difficult to totally bring down than it was to rise in the first place.  Yet as integration became a more constructive force in a new South, new things were being discovered in Eatonville by the entire world, after almost a century of being ignored even by many basic country services by Florida’s Orange County.

It turns out that little Eatonville was the hometown and the legendary site of the great American writing of Zora Neale Hurston, whose most famous Eatonville novel is “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”  And since then Eatonville has been hosting a Zora Neale Hurston Festival at the town’s museum in Hurston’s name. is when literary people from the entire world have bypassed the old Maitland wall to join the city’s world-recognized festivities.

The lesson of this wall and of all walls in history is that once up, they are very hard to completely get rid of. I think the only person to ever successfully get rid of one of this historic walls of hatred and loathing was Ronald Reagan, when in Berlin he uttered his most famous historic words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

The Berlin Wall shortly after was torn down, completely, ushering a new error of a free Europe.  But how many people in history have the persuasive power of a Ronald Reagan to get a hated wall torn down?

But as you know, America is now debating about putting up what must rank as potentially would become one of the  most hated and most expensive walls in history.  Compared to the Berlin Wall, which was 96 miles long, and the 84-mile hated Hadrian’s Wall, which has created a landmark of enmity between the English and the Scottish people (that still lingers to this day with Scotland continuing to petition for Scottish independence north of Hadrian’s Wall), the Trump Wall would break all hemispheric records for a walled fortification of 1,984 miles.

The only wall bigger than the Trump Wall would be the Great Wall of China, which took the Chinese almost 2,000 years to build because there was never enough money in the Chinese treasury to pay for a faster rate of building the wall.

Indeed, the Trump Wall likely would be the most expensive project in American history, because it wouldn’t just be a wall, but an armed fortress every foot of the way.  Just maintaining an active fortification and administration of any man-made structure nearly 2,000 mile long would cost Americans every year at least the price of a foreign war that never stopped.  For this answer to Hadrian’s Wall in Scotland, the Donald Trump Wall in America which Paul Ryan says will have a construction cost to Americans $15 billion in either direct taxes or on import mark-ups, with its fortification requirement will cost another $50 billion in administrative and personnel expenses.

And here I would like to share an insight I have gained after working in the space where Trump worked in New York City for nearly twenty years, and as a journalist my keeping track of the outrageous things Trump said in that time.

You have to understand Trump’s sense of humor.

For example, when Trump said that if he killed an innocent person in Central Park that Americans would love him anyway, that was a joke.

And when Trump said that Mexico – one of the poorest countries in the world – would help America (one of the richest) by using Mexican money to build a wall that protect America, that was a joke as well. 

Trump tells these jokes because he is interested by the way people react to his comedy.  I know that.  Although I never met the man, I had been in his vicinity and around his power radius for nearly twenty years when I was journalistically taking in practically everything he talked about.

And it’s different, the way people talk in New York City.

I’m telling youse.

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.